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Novel protein pathways regulating adipose tissue expansion during weight gain

Project Description

Adipose (fat) tissue expands during excessive food intake. While this is a normal physiological process to store energy, in sedentary individuals or those on a prolonged high fat diet, adipose tissue expansion can particularly occur abdominally, around several different organs. This pattern of increased fat accumulation is a major risk factor for disease. For example, adipose tissue around the heart is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Understanding the regulation of adipose tissue expansion is critical to prevent this inappropriate adipose tissue expansion. Our recent data have revealed that a protein, called phosphoprotein enriched in astrocytes-15 (PEA-15) may regulate the expansion of adipose tissue by limiting the size of adipocytes (the main lipid storing cells). Our data suggest that this occurs via a mechanism involving the control of lipid storage. This studentship will investigate the hypothesis that PEA-15 expression can act as a molecular switch to regulate lipid storage capacity in adipose tissues. Using both cell culture and novel transgenic animal models, you will examine the effect of modulating expression of important proteins relevant to this pathway and examine effects on adipose tissues and adipocytes. The latest molecular and cellular diagnostic techniques will be used in state-of-the-art laboratories. The outcomes of this project will be to identify novel drug targets which could be manipulated to increase the efficiency or capacity of adipocytes and potentially prevent inappropriate fat deposition.

You will additionally benefit from the international expertise in adipose tissue research and cardiovascular disease research within the newly formed Aberdeen Cardiovascular & Diabetes Centre. This centre at the University of Aberdeen consists of approximately 30 laboratory scientists and clinicians working collaboratively towards improving care and outcomes in patients with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes on the largest healthcare campus in Europe.

Formal applications can be completed online: Please apply for admission to the ’Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Sciences’ to ensure that your application is passed to the correct school for processing.

Funding Notes

This PhD studentship provides £1,000 annually for research expenses, tuition fees for Home/EU students and comes with an annual stipend of £15,009 (2019/20 rate)

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a First Class Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2:1 Honours degree may be considered provided they have a Distinction at Masters level.


Greig FH, Kennedy S, Gibson G, Ramos JW, Nixon GF (2017) PEA-15 (Phosphoprotein Enriched in Astrocytes 15) Is a Protective Mediator in the Vasculature and Is Regulated During Neointimal Hyperplasia. J Am Heart Assoc. 6. e006936

Mcilroy GD, Suchacki K, Roelofs AJ, Yang W, Fu Y, Bai B, Wallace RJ, De Bari C, Cawthorn WP, Han W, Delibegović M, Rochford JJ. (2018) Adipose specific disruption of seipin causes early-onset generalised lipodystrophy and altered fuel utilisation without severe metabolic disease. Mol Metab. 10:55-65.

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