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Non-coding RNA regulation of stem cells

Project Description

Stem cells have the potential to make any cell type in the Human body and are powerful tools in drug discovery (Xia and Wong, 2012). Our understanding of the principles of creating a pluripotent stem cell is well established for a number of key pluripotency genes. Transcription factors and enzymes that regulate chromatin are critical to this process. The pathways and complexities are still being unraveled and with the advent of next generation sequencing a new class of exciting, expressed genes has been identified, potentially playing a role in stem cell biology. These new genes fall into the non-coding component of the genome and could represent ~16,000 new uncharacterised genes (Johnsson etal., 2014). The PhD project will investigate the role of non-coding RNAs in stem cell regulation. A few lncRNA have already been shown to play a functional role in transcriptional regulation, some in stem cells (Chen et al., 2017). The Human genome has thousands of potential lncRNAs, but most have not had their function analysed, particularly with respect to stem cell biology.
We have identified groups of lncRNA genes that show differential gene expression and enrichment in stem cell populations, using a combination of approaches (Walters et al., 2018). This PhD will investigate the functional role and mechanism of action of lncRNAs in stem cell pluripotency and differentiation. The PhD will use cell culture, RNAi, CRISPR gene editing, bioinformatics, high content microscopy, biochemical and molecular biology techniques to investigate the function of novel lncRNAs.

Science Graduate School
As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

Funding Notes

Entry requirements
First class or upper second 2(i) in a relevant subject. To formally apply for a PhD, you must complete the University's application form using the following link: View Website

*All applicants should ensure that both references are uploaded onto their application as a decision will be unable to be made without this information*.


Xia and Wong (2012) STEM CELLS 30:1800–1807
Johnsson et al., (2014) Biochim Biophys Acta 1840(3): 1063–1071
Chen et al., (2017) Briefings in Bioinformatics 18(4): 558–576
Walters et al., (2018) bioRxiv 254722

How good is research at University of Sheffield in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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