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EPSRC Sensor CDT PhD Project with AstraZeneca: Developing dynamic biosensors for GPCR signalling pathways

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, April 30, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies for a Healthy and Sustainable Future, in collaboration with AstraZeneca, is inviting applications for a fully funded 1+3 years MRes + PhD studentship, commencing in October 2020. The studentship will be hosted by Doctor Graham Ladds’ group ( in the Department of Pharmacology. Please note that this studentship is only available to UK and EU nationals who meet the residency criteria; overseas nationals are not eligible and should not apply.
In this project you will design and experimentally evaluate molecular biosensors to interrogate cellular signalling pathways. The project will involve development of cell-based assays, molecular engineering of biosensors and will use detection technologies like FRET/BRET/proximity assays, luminescence & fluorescence reporter assays.
Signalling pathways mediate cell-cell interactions and coordinate cellular responses to external stimuli. Many common chronic diseases are caused by aberrant signalling and most drugs act directly or indirectly on specific signalling events to mediate their therapeutic effects. The majority of existing signalling assays examine either receptor engagement or late downstream events, mainly signalling-mediated transcriptional activation of effector gene expression. Examination of second messengers and immediate downstream activation of protein kinase cascades has been more challenging due to the lack of high affinity dynamic tools that enable time-resolved tracking of signalling events and crosstalk between signalling pathways. You will develop bioassays that will provide fundamental insights into signalling pathways dynamics, that can be directly implemented in drug development activities. The project will focus on G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), one of the most extensively studied family of plasma-membrane receptors, and a long-standing interest of Dr Graham Ladds’ group. In addition, the validation of newly engineered cell lines and bioassays and their comparison with existing assay formats will be done in collaboration with the Bioassay Development team at AstraZeneca, Cambridge. The current AstraZeneca pipeline contains a variety of biotherapeutics that are effective modulators of GPCRs, and you will have the opportunity to implement novel assay formats in ongoing drug development projects.
The studentship is fully-funded for 4-years and will be hosted at the University of Cambridge in the Department of Pharmacology. The student will be enrolled in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies for a Healthy and Sustainable Future ( The first year involves a highly interdisciplinary programme consisting of lectures, research and team projects covering a wide range of technologies sensing and imaging. Successful completion of the first year will lead to a Master of Research qualification (MRes) and optimal preparation for the PhD project in years 2-4. We are seeking a highly motivated individual with a strong academic background, as demonstrated with a 1st class degree, or equivalent, in a relevant discipline. The candidate will have demonstrable hands-on experience in cell culture techniques and a strong interest in cell biology, cell line engineering and signalling pathways. Additional training in potency assay development and assay qualification and further insights into industrial drug development activities will be provided by the AstraZeneca team involved in this project.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 4 years.

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Graham Ladds (). To apply for this position please visit The deadline for applications is 30 April 2020. Note that full funding is available at the Home/EU rate. You can check if you qualify for the Home or EU fees here:

Related Subjects

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FTE Category A staff submitted: 177.20

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