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Next generation sequencing and genome-wide association studies to identify mitochondrial genomic features associated with diabetic kidney disease

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A-J McKnight
    Prof A P Maxwell
  • 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 vitally important for life and are associated with many biological processes. Both inherited and acquired mitochondrial mutations are associated with common complex diseases. This project aims to comprehensively explore genomic influences on mitochondrial function and evaluate association with diabetic kidney disease.

Using state-of-the-art genomic approaches, including next generation sequencing and 3D digital PCR, we will generate whole genome (mtDNA) sequencing, assess DNA and RNA methylation in the mitochondrial genome, and perform targeted RNA-seq. Stringent quality control, experimental validation, and replication will be conducted to identify associations with diabetic kidney disease using both case-control and family-based approaches. Gender bias will be considered, allelic prevalence rates and homo/heteroplasmic variants described, and in silico analyses conducted. This project complements our ongoing genomic and systems biology research. We will develop a genomic map for the mitochondrial genome integrating SNP, methylation and gene expression data for cases with diabetic kidney disease compared to controls with long duration of diabetes and no evidence of renal disease.

The novel findings from this research should improve our knowledge and understanding of mitochondrial features that influence diabetic kidney disease. There is potential for mitochondrial defects to impact on prediction, progression and treatment of diabetic kidney disease.


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

The English Language Unit (ELU) offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained from the ELU

Funding Notes


DEL Research Studentships

Eligibility for both fees and maintenance (£14,057 for 2015/16, 2016/17 TBC) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK resident or those EU residents who have lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship.

Non UK residents who hold EU residency may also apply but if successful may receive fees only.

For further details re eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) please click on the following link:


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Public Health, website for further details about the Centre:

When applying, please choose 'MEDICINE' as your subject area/School.

Related Subjects

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