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How a complex angiogenic network is governed during vascular development (ROBINSON_Q22DTP1)

   Graduate Programme

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  Dr S Robinson  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Angiogenesis is the formation of blood vessels from pre-exisitng vessels. It is essential for maintaining healthy physiological processes and for the revascularisation of tissues following an injury. Our research group focuses on investigating the molecular basis of angiogenesis and we have recently identified a novel interaction between three cell surface proteins expressed by endothelial cells involved in this process.

The goal of this studentship is to take a genetics approach to determine how endothelial alpha5-integrin, neuropilin-1, and neuropilin-2 proteins interact with one another to regulate angiogenesis at the molecular, cellular and organismal levels. We have generated conditionally knocked out mice deficient in their ability to express one or more of these proteins in endothelial cells. Working with these mice, or cells derived from these mice, the project would give the student experience in a wide range of cross-disciplinary techniques:

- Using the mouse retina as a model system to study angiogenesis in vivo.

- Working with endothelial cells in culture, learning how to study their angiogenic behaviour in vitro.

Techniques learned will include whole tissue imaging via confocal microscopy, Western blotting, adhesion and migration assays, immunocytochemistry, and biochemical assays to determine physical interactions between the three proteins.

The project offers students an opportunity to work in a dynamic environment, in a research institute with excellent facilities and resources for undertaking a wide variety of studies in the life-sciences. This opportunity is available for enthusiastic candidates with an interest in cell biology, molecular biology, developmental biology, and/or vascular biology.

The Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) is open to UK and international candidates for entry October 2021 and offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year PhD research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three-month professional internship placement (PIPS) during their study. The placement offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the NRPDTP programme. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on Tuesday 25th January, Wednesday 26th January and Thursday 27th January 2022.

Visit our website for further information on eligibility and how to apply:

Our partners value diverse and inclusive work environments that are positive and supportive. Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Funding Notes

This project is awarded with a 4-year Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) PhD studentship. The studentship includes payment of tuition fees (directly to the University), a stipend for each year of the studentship (2021/2 stipend rate: £15,609), and a Research Training Support Grant for each year of the studentship of £5,000 p.a.


1. Benwell, CJ, Taylor, JAGE, and Robinson SD. (2021). Endothelial NRP2 influences angiogenesis by regulating actin pattern development and alpha5-integrin-p-FAK complex recruitment to assembling adhesion sites. FASEB J, 35:e21679.
2. Alghamdi, AAA, Benwell, CJ, Atkinson, SJ, Lambert, J, Johnson, RT, and Robinson, SD. (2020). NRP2 as an emerging angiogenic player; promoting endothelial cell adhesion and migration by regulating the recycling of alpha5-integrin. Frontiers in cell and developmental biology, 8:395.