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Mitochondrial Genomics: Computational analysis of RNA sequencing data to unravel post-transcriptional processes influencing mitochondrial function

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A Hodgkinson
    Prof C Lewis
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Mitochondria are involved in a wide range of fundamental cellular processes, from cellular energy production to thermogenesis, lipid biosynthesis and cell death. So wide ranging are their functions, that diseases associated with mitochondria manifest across almost all tissues, often affecting multiple organs simultaneously, and mutations in both the mitochondrial genome and associated nuclear genes have been linked to diseases as diverse as Deafness, Alzheimer’s Disease, Diabetes, Cancer and Myopathy.

Recent developments in DNA and RNA sequencing technologies have allowed for the detection of genes and mutations involved in mitochondrial function and also for the analysis of how mitochondrial genome processing varies across human individuals and populations. Alan Hodgkinson’s group aims to exploit both DNA and RNA sequencing to gain a better understanding of the factors that influence mitochondrial genome processing (see: Hodgkinson et al. Science 344: 413-416 (2014) and Mercer et al. Cell 146: 645 (2011)) and to consider how these processes vary on both a population scale and also in different disease states, with a particular focus on cardio-metabolic diseases and cancer.

The studentship is centered on the computational analysis of large multi-omic datasets, with the aim of unravelling variation and key processes influencing mitochondrial function. Initially the project will focus on combining large amounts of RNA sequencing data to determine the genetic drivers of post-transcriptional processes in human mitochondria via genome-wide association studies. Longer term, there will be scope to consider how these processes influence metabolic profiles associated with mitochondrial function, working in collaboration with other experts across KCL and beyond. Beyond this, there will be scope for the successful candidate to develop their own ideas and research interests. Additionally, the student may potentially work on data from the 100,000 Genomes Project, a flagship programme aimed at understanding the genetics of rare diseases and common cancers.

The student will work within Alan Hodgkinson’s multidisciplinary Bioinformatics and Population Genomics Group in the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics at King’s College London (Guy’s Campus). The successful candidate will also have the opportunity to be part of the exciting MRC funded eMedLab project ( which aims to bring together top genome scientists from across the UK to solve important questions in computational biology. In addition to generic research training, the student will receive focused training in human genetics and genomics, population biology and bioinformatics. There will be opportunities for attending national and international conferences and training programmes.

Lab Website:

Negotiable: Any point between May and October 2016

Applications are invited from outstanding students who hold or expect to obtain a First or Upper Second Class Honors Degree (or equivalent). Knowledge of a scripting language (Perl, Python, etc) is desirable and the candidate should be comfortable with statistics - please highlight any relevant experience in these areas in your cover letter.

Please email a copy of your CV (including contact details of two academic referees) and a covering letter (Word or PDF format only) detailing why you are interested and qualified to undertake this project, as well as your potential start date to [Email Address Removed] and CC [Email Address Removed]. I thank all applicants for their interest; however, only those selected for interviews will be contacted.

Funding Notes

This studentship is funded by The Generation Trust. The student will receive a stipend of £16,057 p.a. for four (4) years.

NOTE: Students who are EU residents will not have to pay tuition fees. Applicants from outside the EU are welcome, but they will have to pay the overseas tuition fees themselves (2015/16: £12,000 p.a. - please specify in your application that you are able to pay these fees).

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