This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the ‘GW4 BioMed MRC Doctoral Training Partnership’ which is offering up to 18 studentships for entry in September 2020.
The DTP brings together the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter to develop the next generation of biomedical researchers. Students will have access to the combined research strengths, training expertise and resources of the four research-intensive universities.
Lead supervisor: Dr Vicky Hunt, Department of Biology & Biochemistry, University of Bath
Co-supervisors: Dr Hans-Wilhelm Nützmann (Bath) and Dr Laura Peachey (Bristol)
Nematode parasites of the gastrointestinal tract e.g. Strongyloides spp. infect 1.5 billion people globally and cause a substantial disease burden. Understanding the mechanisms nematodes have evolved to infect their host is an important step towards developing much needed treatments and control methods. Our recent research has shown that genes associated with parasitism are grouped together in distinct ‘virulence hotspots’ in the genome of Strongyloides nematodes.
To understand the role of virulence hotspots, and gene organisation more generally, in nematode parasitism this PhD project will address the following questions:
i) Is gene organisation and co-regulation of genes important for parasitism?
ii) Are virulence hotspots characteristic of parasite genomes in general?
iii) How is the co-ordinated activation of virulence hotspots controlled on a molecular level?
iv) Are signatures of epigenetic marks associated with virulence hotspots?
v) What is the role of the proteins encoded for by genes in virulence hotspots?
This project combines wet-laboratory and bioinformatic approaches. The student will receive training in state-of-the-art molecular biology methods in transcriptomics, proteomics, histone biology, chromosome organisation and genetics. In the molecular biology component of the project, the student will work with Strongyloides parasitic nematodes and perform functional analysis of epigenetic marks, including investigating the role of histone modifications and small RNAs in the regulation of virulence hotspots at different stages of infection.
The student will also be trained in the bioinformatic analysis of large-scale genomic and transcriptomic datasets to investigate the role of virulence hotspots in nematodes and parasites more generally. Together these approaches will help us to better understand the genetic toolbox used by parasites to successfully infect the host.
The doctoral researcher will be integrated into ongoing collaborations with laboratories in Japan, Germany, UK and USA. For further background information about our research on gene organisation and parasites please visit: http://www.vickyhuntlab.org https://researchportal.bath.ac.uk/en/persons/hans-wilhelm-nützmann
Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an area appropriate to the skills requirements of the project.
IMPORTANT: In order to apply for this project, you should apply using the DTP’s online application form: https://cardiff.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/gw4-biomed-mrc-doctoral-training-partnership-student-appl
You do NOT need to apply to the University of Bath at this stage – only those applicants who are successful in obtaining an offer of funding form the DTP will be required to submit an application to study at Bath.
More information on the application process may be found here: https://www.gw4biomed.ac.uk/doctoral-students/
APPLICATIONS CLOSE AT 17:00 ON 25 NOVEMBER 2019.