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Ion channel signalling in cancer cells

Department of Biology

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Dr W Brackenbury No more applications being accepted Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Our cells constantly sense and transport ions present in their environment. From embryonic development to epilepsy to heart disease to cancer, our cells’ ability to respond to changes in the ionic microenvironment is essential for healthy ageing. We recently discovered a new link between sodium transport and cancer metastasis. This could be a mechanism of integrating ionic signals into intracellular and cell-cell communication. In this project, you will build on these findings and explore how ion transporters and channels affect signalling, metabolism and communication in cancer cells. We will use a range of sophisticated microscopy approaches, e.g. confocal microscopy and ptychography, to explore the functional activity of ion channels and their effect on amino acid metabolism and intracellular signalling. We will modulate channel expression using pharmacological and genetic (RNAi, CRISPR) techniques. Importantly, we will measure channel activity using a combination of whole cell patch clamp recording and ion-sensitive dyes. We will also study the effects of ion channel activity on downstream signalling and cellular behaviour using molecular cell biology approaches. The project will therefore expose the student to a range of cutting-edge cell biology techniques in labs that are leading in this field. As ion transport plays a key role in normal cellular physiology and in a number of diseases, this project is expected to provide novel mechanistic insights into an important, and relatively understudied signalling mechanism.

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded project. Applicants need to have adequate funds to meet the costs of a self-funded research project including tuition fees and living expenses for the duration of the research programme. Please see information on tuition fee costs, living expenses and funding opportunities.


Applications are welcome for either for a 1-year MSc by Research or for a 3-year PhD
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