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Investigating the mechanistic regulation of lipid synthesis during health and metabolic disease

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, April 05, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Applications are invited for a talented and dedicated postgraduate research student (PhD) to join Dr James Cantley’s laboratory at the School of Medicine, University of Dundee. The successful applicant will undertake original research into the molecular control of de novo lipid synthesis in the liver, pancreas, adipose tissue and other cell types. This research has direct relevance for the changes in metabolism associated with obesity, ageing and type 2 diabetes. With diabetes rates approaching half a billion people worldwide, research in this area is a medical, economic and ethical priority.

Many cells/tissues in the body synthesise lipid from carbohydrate via a metabolic pathway coupled by the enzyme acetyl-coA carboxylase 1 (ACC1), including hepatocytes and adipocytes, but also non-classical lipogenic tissues such as pancreatic beta cells. De novo lipogenesis (DNL) fulfils different roles in these tissue types: in the liver, DNL produces sufficient fatty acids for systemic metabolism and storage, where as in beta cells DNL plays a role in maintaining cellular competency for hormone secretion. Moreover, the structure, metabolism, signalling and function of these cell types is distinct. This raises the key question that will be explored in this PhD project: how is lipogenesis regulated in these different cell types? The lab have worked extensively on the regulation of lipogenesis in pancreatic beta cells. The successful applicant will build on these data, initially by exploring several mechanistic leads in beta cells and the liver, using proprietary tools developed by the lab. As their experience and understanding of the field develop, they will expand their studies to investigate broader lines of investigation into the regulation of lipogenesis. They will use a combination of in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro techniques, including disease-relevant cell and mouse models, human tissues, metabolism and secretion assays, imaging, western blotting, mass spectrometry and transcriptomics.
We are seeking a candidate with a genuine passion for science, who is highly motivated to pursue a biomedical PhD in cell biology/physiology. Excellent communication skills are essential, including the ability to write text that can be published, present research proposals and results, and represent the research group at internal meetings and external conferences (we anticipate/expect attendance at 1 national and 1 international conference at least during the PhD). The applicant must be able to manage their own research and administrative activities in a safe and timely manner, to meet deadlines, and to assume a share of group responsibilities. Strong interpersonal skills are also required, along with the ability to work as part of a research team. Safe working practices and excellent scientific conduct is expected at all times.

Applicants are asked to clearly state their previous research experience (e.g. research projects, student placements, employment etc), along with a brief synopsis of the research project(s) conducted and their role in the project(s). Prior experience in metabolism and endocrinology is not essential. Applicants should also clearly state their motivation for wanting to undertake a PhD in this area.

The Cantley group are located in the Jacqui Wood Cancer Centre (Ninewells Hospital and Medical School), providing high quality laboratory space, interaction with other research groups and access to outstanding research facilities. This is an excellent opportunity to undertake a doctoral research degree in a world class research environment, develop skills in metabolism and endocrinology, and to contribute to original research in an area of significant unmet medical need.

Informal enquiries are welcome and should be addressed to Dr. James Cantley.

Start date 1st September 2020 (negotiable).

Funding Notes

Funding for fees and stipend is only available to EU/UK students. The post is internally funded for 3 years. Personal stipend is set at the standard RCUK rate. The project is supported by a £15K p.a. consumables budget.

Enquires from self-funded non-EU students are also encouraged.

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