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Functional Genomics in Sensory Neuroscience

Project Description

The Human Genome contains an estimated 20,000 protein-coding genes, a large portion of which encode products of unknown biological function. In the field of Sensory Neuroscience, for example, genes encoding receptors for mechanical pain, noxious cold, as well as several odorants and taste modalities have yet to be discovered. Identifying these molecules would open new chapters in our molecular-level understanding of the sensory nervous system, and may provide future targets for better therapy, such as better analgesic and anaesthetic treatments.

High-throughput, genome-wide screening remains the best way to identify such unknown target molecules. Such experiments have long been the purview of industry-scale research efforts, where vast libraries of molecules are used in highly automated experiments to identify viable pharmaceutical targets. This approach is limited by several factors, including library quality and the high material and equipment cost.

Our lab has established a novel experimental method that enables such screening for select targets in sensory neuroscience. We employ a directed molecular evolution-based approach to use the genome itself a screening library to identify high-value target molecules. Novel targets identified will be studied in collaboration with Prof. Nikita Gamper. Such studies will involve in vivo and in vitro approaches to characterise the properties and physiological function of these genes. This exciting research will encompass methods such as cell culture, molecular biology, genome editing, mouse genetics, fluorescent microscopy and Cell Sorting, Next-Generation Sequencing and Bioinformatics analysis.

The successful student must be self-motivated, a good communicator and an ability to work collaboratively. The student will be expected to master and routinely use these techniques to conduct state-of-the-art research at the edge of High-throughput Genome Editing and Neuroscience, and produce high-impact publications. Experience in the methods listed above will be preferred.

Application inquiries should include a detailed CV with two References and be sent to .

Funding Notes

Applicants should have, or be expecting to receive, a 2.1 Hons degree (or equivalent) or above in a relevant subject. Applicants whose native language is not English must provide proof of sufficient proficiency of English language (TOEFL/British Council equivalent).

Funding covers UK/EU fees plus a stipend (£15,009) for 4 years. Self-funded candidates are also encouraged to apply.

Please apply online at View Website
Select PhD in Biological Sciences as the course and include the supervisor name. We don't require a research proposal; please include a CV and transcripts.


Lukacs V, Mathur J, Mao R, Bayrak-Toydemir P, Procter M, Cahalan SM, Kim HJ, Bandell M, Longo N, Day RW, Stevenson DA, Patapoutian A, Krock BL. Impaired PIEZO1 function in patients with a novel autosomal recessive congenital lymphatic dysplasia. Nat Commun. 2015 Sep 21;6:8329.

Woo SH, Lukacs V, de Nooij JC, Zaytseva D, Criddle CR, Francisco A, Jessell TM, Wilkinson KA, Patapoutian A. Piezo2 is the principal mechanotransduction channel for proprioception. Nat Neurosci. 2015 Dec;18(12):1756-62.

Mathias J Friedrich, Lena Rad, Iraad F Bronner, Alexander Strong, Wei Wang, Julia Weber, Matthew Mayho, Hannes Ponstingl, Thomas Engleitner, Carolyn Grove, Anja Pfaus, Dieter Saur, Juan Cadiñanos, Michael A Quail, George S Vassiliou, Pentao Liu, Allan Bradley & Roland Rad. Genome-wide transposon screening and quantitative insertion site sequencing for cancer gene discovery in mice. Nature Protocols volume 12, pages 289–309 (2017)

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 60.90

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

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