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Inhibiting MicroRNAs to improve skeletal muscle phenotype in cardio-respiratory disease


National Heart and Lung Institute

Friday, December 11, 2020 Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

3-year NHLI-funded PhD post – starting April 2021

Applications are invited from candidates with a Master’s degree (Merit and above) in Molecular/cell biology or a related discipline, for a 3 year PhD.

The studentship will be funded for 3 years with a tax free bursary of £18,000 p.a.. Tuition fees at the Home rate will also be paid plus £5,000 consumable costs contribution to the project.

Summary of Research


Reduced skeletal muscle mass and function are common co-morbidities for many diseases including heart diseases. The loss of muscle mass and function reduce quality of life and are associated with increased hospitalisation and risk of death. Although the basic mechanisms controlling muscle mass are well known, there are no licenced treatments for the loss of muscle suggesting that there is a level of control that is not well understood.

We have identified a number of miRNAs (small non-coding RNAs) that are dysregulated in the skeletal muscle of patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and associate with reduced muscle mass and function. These miRNAs also predict muscle loss in patients undergoing aortic surgery and promote muscle loss in mice. The aim of this project is to determine whether the same changes in miRNA expression exist in patients with heart failure and how these changes affect muscle mass, to understand how the expression of these miRNAs is controlled and to develop inhibitors of miRNA function and/or expression. The student will use a broad range of cell and molecular techniques to analyse cell phenotype as well as study gene and protein expression in samples from human tissue.

Imperial College London provides excellent opportunities for research students' training. All students benefit from a full programme of training in research and transferable skills organised through the Graduate School, the quality of which has been recognised several times at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards.

The student will be based in the section of Cardio-Respiratory Interface within the National Heart and Lung Institute, which provides an exciting environment, with state of the art facilities and excellent opportunities for PhD student training including research seminars and journal clubs. This project will be carried out in close collaboration with clinical teams embedded in the section, and the institute provides extensive collaborative opportunities with other research groups.

How to Apply


Applicants must hold, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second-class undergraduate degree or UK equivalent, along with a Masters, both in an appropriate subject from a recognised academic institution. To apply please send a CV, a one page personal statement, and the names and addresses of at least two academic referees to Paul Kemp by email on .

Please note that candidates must fulfil College admissions criteria.

Application deadline: 11/12/20

Funding Notes

The studentship will be funded for 3 years with a tax free bursary of £18,000 p.a.. Tuition fees at the Home rate will also be paid plus £5,000 consumable costs contribution to the project.

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