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Investigating the role of RNA-editing and non-coding RNA interaction in guiding mitochondrial dysregulation in diabetic endothelial cells

   National Heart and Lung Institute

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  Dr Prashant Srivastava, Prof C Emanueli  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a BHF 4-year MRes/PhD studentship starting in October 2022 at the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) in partnership with the Bioengineering Department at Imperial College. Students will join a well established doctoral training program with bespoke teaching activities, seminars, mentors and workshops.

The Cardiovascular Sections of the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, are located within the Main Campus at South Kensington, the Brompton Campus and Hammersmith/White City Campus. Bioengineering is also located at Main Campus at South Kensington and at White City. Students will have the opportunity to work in state of the art facilities within a highly developed research environment where our ambition is to translate research findings to help those with cardiovascular diseases. 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.

Project summary

The BHF 4-year MRes/PhD studentships typically comprises a 1-year MRes in Biomedical Research, followed by a 3-year PhD. During the MRes year, students undertake two laboratory projects which will prepare them for the PhD.

We are seeking a curious and self-driven candidate who is committed to cardiovascular research and eager to join our integrated MRes/PhD cardiovascular program. We are offering an innovative project at the crossline of data science and vascular biology, aiming to investigate how changes in RNA editing guides mitochondrial dysfunction in the endothelial cells of the diabetic heart.

Endothelial cells form the inner lining of our blood vessels and are intimately involved in vascular disease as well as the success of any regenerative medicine approach. Diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are elevated for a prolonged time, causing the damage of endothelial cells. Consequently, diabetes is a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease and one-third of diabetic people will die because of cardiovascular disease.

After the completion of the human genome and Encode projects, the appreciation of the importance of “RNA editing” (changes in the chemical structure of RNA molecules occurring after DNA transcription and synthesis by the RNA polymerase enzyme) for cardiovascular homeostasis and disease has been growing exponentially. Nonetheless, clinical-relevant scientific questions remain unanswered. Amongst them are the mechanisms underpinning mitochondrial dysfunction in diabetic endothelial cells.

The PhD student will learn to develop bioinformatic analyses and to employ in vitro and in vivo models of diabetic cardiovascular damage. The integration of laboratory and in silico data will allow to identify and prioritise therapeutic targets for interventions.

Applicant Requirements

Applicants must hold, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second-class honours degree or equivalent in an appropriate subject from a recognised academic institution. Candidates must fulfil College admissions criteria and meet BHF residency requirements.

The successful candidate will be immersed in the multi-disciplinary research environment of Hammersmith campus scientific community and will have opportunities of frequent interaction with other NHLI groups and external collaborators. The project requires the student to develop competence in both lab work and bioinformatics. The supervisors view a PhD as a training opportunity in a wide range of areas, including various laboratory and computational techniques. As such, it is not a pre-requisite for the candidate to have prior experience in both, but we require the student to have a positive aptitude for each component and to work toward gaining capacity of independent work in both approaches.

How to Apply

To apply, please email Jaya Rajamanie ([Email Address Removed]) with the following documents.

  • Your CV
  • The names and addresses of at least two academic referees.
  • A personal statement of no more than 1,000 words explaining your interest in the project and please ensure that you specify your degree classification for your undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Selected candidates will get a tour of the relevant campus. Please assume that your application has not been successful if you have not heard from us within a month of the closing date.

Closing date for all applications: 20th February 2022

Interviews will be held online at the end of March.

Funding Notes

Studentships will cover tuition fees (at the Home/EU rate) and a tax-free stipend starting from £22,278 per annum for a total of 4 years. Students will join a well established doctoral training program with bespoke teaching activities, seminars, mentors and workshops. In addition, there is a consumable allowance £4000 per student for the MRes year (plus the additional in-course £2500 per MRes project) for both BHF, Endowment and Department funded studentships and £10,000 (BHF funded studentship) and £5000 (Department studentship) per PhD year. A travel fund of £1000 in total per student will be provided.
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