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Next generation infra-red glucose biosensors

Project Description

Glucose is a key metabolite for microorganisms, the most important energy source in more complex organisms and the key product of photosynthesis in plants. It is therefore crucial across the biological sciences to be able to accurately map glucose concentrations in living organisms and cells. The technology powering blood glucose monitoring devices used routinely in hospitals is electro-chemical, requiring invasive physical sampling. New sensor technology is in development which uses light to measure glucose concentrations. It works using a fluorescent molecular probe which binds glucose and changes the colour of fluorescently emitted light. These biosensors are entirely made of protein so can even be expressed natively in the organism. The problem is that currently these biosensors use visible wavelengths of light which are absorbed by tissues.

This project will develop the next generation of glucose biosensor using infra-red fluorophores. Light at these wavelengths passes through tissues and organisms much more easily and makes the biosensor technology compatible with many other commonly used optical microscopy techniques. Different infra-red fluorophores will be tested and a range of biosensors sensitive to different glucose concentrations will be developed to maximise applicability to different biological problems. Biosensors will be tested in test tubes but also in live cells, including model yeast and mammalian cell lines under the microscope. Training will be provided in molecular cloning, protein design production and purification, the design of biosensors, as well as microscopy and image analysis. This is a cutting-edge interdisciplinary project with potential for real impact in the biological sciences and also potential medical application in patient glucose monitoring.

Applications should be made by emailing with a CV (including contact details of at least two academic (or other relevant) referees), and a covering letter – clearly stating your first choice project, and optionally 2nd and 3rd ranked projects, as well as including whatever additional information you feel is pertinent to your application; you may wish to indicate, for example, why you are particularly interested in the selected project(s) and at the selected University. Applications not meeting these criteria will be rejected.
In addition to the CV and covering letter, please email a completed copy of the Additional Details Form (Word document) to . A blank copy of this form can be found at: https://www.nld-dtp.org.uk/how-apply.

Informal enquiries may be made to

Funding Notes

This is a 4 year BBSRC studentship under the Newcastle-Liverpool-Durham DTP. The successful applicant will receive research costs, tuition fees and stipend (£15,009 for 2019-20). The PhD will start in October 2020. Applicants should have, or be expecting to receive, a 2.1 Hons degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. EU candidates must have been resident in the UK for 3 years in order to receive full support. Please note, there are 2 stages to the application process.


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