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  Funded PhD - Engineering unconventional gene regulation

   School of Biological Sciences

  ,  Monday, January 08, 2024  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The ability to control when and where genes are expressed in living cells is a central pillar of synthetic biology and underpins the engineering of biology for diverse applications. Historically, gene regulation has mostly been considered at the level of DNA-binding proteins (e.g., transcription factors), however, we are beginning to realise the important role that other biophysical factors can have at all levels - a phenomena called polycomputing.

In this project, the student will explore how induced DNA supercoiling and spatial interactions between distant sections of DNA (e.g., due to bending) can be used to engineer complex gene regulatory patterns that would be difficult or impossible to implement using traditional synthetic biology approaches. To do this, the project will combine a mix of biophysical and graph-based modelling, genome engineering, and genetic circuit design. It is an opportunity for a creative and ambitious student to take steps towards reimaging how to build genetic systems that better harness diverse biological processes.

The project will be based at the University of Bristol in the Biocompute Lab that forms part of Bristol BioDesign Institute and carried out in close collaboration with Dr. Stock at the University of Ghent in Belgium. It is expected that the student will spend time across both labs to build the underlying models describing these processes and develop the experiments needed to test new ideas and genetic designs. Both labs value diverse perspectives on science and aim to support an engaging and supportive environment that is required to tackle challenging scientific questions.

For further information regarding the project, please contact:

How to apply 

To apply, please contact the project supervisor to express your interest in their project, forwarding your CV and a Research Statement. 

The application deadline is 4pm Monday 8th January. 

If shortlisted, you will be asked to apply via the University of Bristol application portal: Start your application | Study at Bristol | University of Bristol selecting the relevant 4-year PhD programme, e.g. “Biochemistry (PhD) (4yr)”. 

We will also be running a pre-application online workshop and Q&A session on how to prepare a PhD application; if you would like to register for this workshop then please sign up here

Bristol PGR scholarships for applicants of Black heritage  

As part of our commitment to the Black community, the University of Bristol has launched a number of PGR research scholarships exclusively for students of Black heritage for 2024/25 entry. These are available within the faculties of Arts and Life Sciences, and are open to UK-domiciled, home fee applicants of Black African, Black Caribbean or other Black or mixed Black heritage.  

The scholarships aim to address the under-representation of black people in postgraduate research and support our work to improve representation across all levels of study and academia. This includes our Bristol Black Scholarships Scheme (undergraduate) and Opportunity Bristol (research-related Master’s courses).  

We have a wide range of support networks, student societies and community groups for students of Black heritage. These include our Be More Empowered for Success PGR Programme which aims to influence positive change across the themes of access, belonging and empowerment.  This year, we are also taking part in the Women’s Higher Education Network 100 Black Women Professors NOW Pipeline Programme, which aims to propel the careers of Black PhD students, through coaching, development, networking and mentoring. WHEN also work with senior leadership to deliver systemic change. We are looking to continue to enhance this support as we continue to strive to make our student communities more inclusive.   

If you have any questions on the scheme, you are welcome to contact Dr Stephanie King (Postgraduate Faculty Education Director for Life Sciences) with any questions - .%E2%80%AF 

For project-related enquiries, please contact the project supervisor. 

Biological Sciences (4) Engineering (12) Mathematics (25)

Funding Notes

This project is only available for UK students of Black or mixed Black Heritage. The studentship duration is four years, and it includes an annual stipend set at the current UKRI recommendation of £18,622.  Tuition fees and research costs are fully supported by the studentship, as well as an allowance for paid sick leave and parental leave, in addition to 5 weeks of paid leave each year.

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

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

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