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Molecular Biology of Mummified Tissues

Project Description

The University of Manchester’s KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology ( ) is offering 1 full funded “Home” PhD studentship in Molecular Palaeobiology of mummified tissues (Currently “home” includes EU students).
The KNH Centre at the University of Manchester is dedicated to obtaining an understanding of ancient societies and their people through the application of modern biomolecular techniques to mummified hard and soft tissues. The KNH Centre has recently received a £1M donation to further its aims, part of which will be used to fund two studentships.
Mummification, natural or artificial, is the process by which the body is preserved post-mortem. Its main mechanism is dehydration, however this process is still not fully understood. This studentship will focus on the development of novel techniques for defining molecular profiles and palaeobiology of artificially mummified tissues. In addition, the student will apply these techniques to obtain an understanding of the change in molecular structure of tissues during the process of mummification. The supervisory group for will be a multidisciplinary team of specialists in DNA, proteins, lipids, saccharides, and ancient tissues within the KNH Centre, and experts in leading edge molecular technology from the University as a whole.
The students will work across a wide range of facilities, mainly in the ancient DNA laboratories of the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology ( ), Molecular Biology within the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, and the Stoller Biomarker Discovery Centre ( ), and the Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre (

For more information please contact Dr Konstantina Drosou ()

Academic background of candidates:
The students will be working at the leading edge of technological development and application of molecular biology and pathology techniques to human mummified tissues, which offer an additional level of challenge to molecular biology. They will therefore be expected to have experience in molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, or a related subject and to have a mind excited by the prospect of furthering an understanding of human tissues at the molecular level in a challenging environment. Knowledge of bioinformatics is desirable but is not a pre requisite.

Funding Notes

PhD endowment (Biomedical Egyptology) funded studentship for a duration of three years to commence in January 2020, covering UK/EU tuition fees and an annual minimum stipend (£15,009 per annum 2019/20). On the online application form select PhD Molecular Biology.

If you are interested, please make direct contact with the Supervisor to discuss the project. You MUST also submit an online application form - choose PhD Molecular Biology.

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.


Drosou, K. Price, C. and Brown, T.A. (2018) The kinship of two 12th Dynasty mummies revealed by ancient DNA sequencing. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. 17:793-797.

Jones, J., Mirzaei, M., Ravishankar, P., Xavier, D., Lim, D.L., Shin, D.H., Bianucci, R. and Haynes, P.A. (2016). Identification of proteins from 4200-year-old skin and muscle tissue biopsies from ancient Egyptian mummies of the first intermediate period shows evidence of acute inflammation and severe immune response. Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 374(2079): 20150373.

Cappellini, E., Prohaska, A., Racimo, R., Welker, F., Winther Pedersen, M., Allentoft, M.E., Damgaard, P.d B., Gutenbrunner, P., Dunne, J., Hammann, S., Soffet-Salque, M., Ilardo, M., Moreno-Mayar, V., Wang, Y., Sikora, M., Vinner, L., Cox, J., Evershed, R.P. and Willerslev, E. (2018) Ancient Biomolecules and Evolutionary Inference. Annual Review of Biochemistry. 87:1029-1060.

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