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Evolution Education Trust PhD project: Ancestral function of the imprinted Grb10 gene

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, April 30, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The University of Bath is inviting applications for this PhD opportunity based at the Milner Centre for Evolution, a unique, cross-faculty research centre bridging biology, health and education. The Centre is dedicated to a broad range of fundamental research questions relating to evolutionary biology; from in deep time, to the micro-evolutionary dynamics of a disease outbreak. We have a strong focus on public engagement and outreach. We are located in a dedicated multi-million-pound building that opened on the University campus in September 2018. For further information about the centre see

Project Overview:

Around 100 mammalian genes are subject to genomic imprinting, a form of epigenetic regulation that restricts expression to only of the two parental alleles. Major goals are to understand: how and why imprinting has evolved; how imprinted genes influence health and disease, including cancer and obesity.

Dlk1 is expressed from the paternally inherited allele, promotes growth and inhibits adipose deposition. Conversely, maternally expressed Grb10 inhibits growth and promotes adipose deposition. We have shown using mouse genetics that Dlk1 and Grb10 act antagonistically in a common pathway. Importantly, their actions are independent of the insulin like growth factor (IFG) pathway, which includes another pair of imprinted genes with antagonistic growth functions. Whereas growth regulation through IGF signalling is likely conserved in all animal species the functions of Dlk1 and Grb10 are unknown in non-mammalian species. Thus, this project aims to determine gene function in zebrafish, a model species without imprinting, to establish whether growth regulation is an ancestral function of Dlk1 and Grb10 or has been acquired along with imprinting during mammalian evolution. Former students have discovered multiple functions of Dlk1 and Grb10 in mouse (see references, below).

The project will involve zebrafish genetics and phenotypic characterisation, with techniques from embryology, physiology, molecular biology and bioinformatics.


Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or high Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or the equivalent qualification gained outside the UK) in a relevant subject. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.


Informal enquiries should be directed to Andrew Ward ()

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form:

On the application form, please ensure that you quote ‘Evolution Education Trust’ in the Finance section and the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section. Should you wish to be considered for more than project, quote the projects in order of preference and upload a separate personal statement relevant to each one.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Interviews will take place in Bath on 14 June 2019.

Anticipated start date: 30 September 2019.

Funding Notes

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the Evolution Education Trust View Website.

A studentship will provide UK/EU tuition fees, a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£15,009 p.a. for 2019/20) and a generous budget for research and training as well as funds to support outreach activities for a period of up to 3.5 years.

Note: ONLY UK and EU applicants are eligible for studentship funding. International applicants will not be considered unless they can fully self-fund (fees and living costs).


Madon-Simon et al. 2014, BMC Biology, BMC Biology 12, 771 (22p).
Cowley et al. 2014, PLoS Biology, 12, e1001799 (13p).
Garfield et al. 2011, Nature, 469, 534-538.
Smith et al. 2007, Mol. Cell. Biol., 27, 5871-5886.
Charalambous et al. 2003, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 100, 8292-8297

How good is research at University of Bath in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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