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More than skin-deep: the role of LC3-associated phagocytosis in epidermal pigmentation (MORRISCU20SCIO)

Project Description

The epidermis serves a number of key functions in maintaining human health. The production of the skin pigment, melanin, is triggered in response to UV radiation and serves to protect the skin from UV-induced DNA damage that causes premature ageing and predisposes to skin cancer.

Autophagy (which means "self-eating") is an essential cellular process that involves the degradation and recycling of damaged or defective proteins or organelles in times of relative starvation (1). In the context of skin health, the maturation and trafficking of melanin-containing vesicles (melanosomes) in the melanocyte is known to be dependent upon the expression of a key autophagy protein, UVRAG (2).

We are looking for a committed and highly motivated student to examine the role of autophagy pathways in the uptake of melanosomes by keratinocytes, using cells from genetic mouse models of autophagy (3).

In the project you will be trained in a range of molecular/cell biological approaches including primary cell isolation, qPCR, Western Blotting, immunohistochemistry, live cell confocal microscopy, flow cytometry. You will join a collaborative team of researchers in the Morris, Wheeler and Wileman groups that are addressing broader questions about skin homeostasis and the role of autophagy in human health and disease. The project will involve studies at UEA ( and the Quadrum Institute (

For more information on the project’s supervisor, please visit:
Type of programme: PhD
Start date of project: October 2020
Mode of study: full time
Studentship length: funded for 3 years
Location: UEA and Quadram Institute
Entry requirement: acceptable first degree in Biological sciences or biomedicine. The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is in a competition for a Faculty of Science funded studentship. Funding is available to UK/EU applicants and comprises home/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,009 for 3 years. Overseas applicants may apply but they are required to fund the difference between home/EU and overseas tuition fees (which for 2019-20 are detailed on the University’s fees pages at View Website . Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual increase).

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