The sense of hearing is essential for many aspects of human and animal life including communication, location of predators or prey, as well as general orientation in the environment. In children, hearing is critical for development of speech and cognitive skills, while hearing loss affects employment possibilities and performance, and has recently been recognized as risk factor for dementia. In the ear, specialised cells called hair cells are responsible for sound perception and essential for normal hearing. Hair cells can easily be damaged by drugs, excessive noise or due to genetic mutations and normal ageing. While lower vertebrates like frogs and fish can regenerate hair cells, mammals including humans cannot, leading to permanent hearing defects with serious impact on normal life. This project explores genetic and epigenetic events during hair cell formation with the long-term goal to identify new drug targets to promote their regeneration.
During the project, the student will develop ear organoids from stem cells, use modern molecular and bioinformatic tools to characterise hair cells and the epigenetic changes that accompany their formation, degeneration and potential regeneration. The student will gain multidisciplinary training in stem cell and molecular biology and bioinformatics. S/he will benefit from joining an international and interactive research team at King’s, from networking and training opportunities beyond laboratory skills and from first-hand experience in pharmaceutical industry through a placement at Boehringer Ingelheim.
The successful candidate will have a BSc or MSc in biomedical sciences and a strong interest in developmental, stem cell or molecular biology. Previous experience in these areas and basic bioinformatics skills will be of advantage.
Applications must be complete, including both references, by 24th January 2020
Fully funded place including home (UK) tuition fees and a tax-free stipend in the region of £17,009. Students from the EU are welcome to submit an application for funding, any offers will be subject to BBSRC approval and criteria.