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PhD Studentship in Biosciences - How Do Cells “Memorise” Their Chromosome Architecture Through Cell Division?

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  • Full or part time
    Prof J Higgins
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Number of awards

Start date and duration
28 September 2020. 3 Year PhD

In this project, you will investigate how cells can undergo radical changes in chromosome structure during cell division without disrupting their gene expression programmes.

Cells adopt distinct identities by expressing different cohorts of genes. These expression profiles are maintained in part by epigenetic changes such as histone modifications, but how they are remembered or reprogrammed during cell division is unclear. These processes are critical to allow normal development and prevent cancer, and understanding them is vital for prevention and treatment of disease.

You will work in an inter-disciplinary environment and learn both cell biological and computational techniques, providing an excellent basis for a career in modern biological and data sciences. In the Higgins laboratory, you will conduct epigenetic analysis of chromatin modifications during cell division and learn cell biological methods. In the Rico laboratory, you will be trained in computational analysis of large (epi)genetic datasets. The project will reveal how factors are maintained or released from chromosomes to allow their three-dimensional structure to be reorganised and then recreated after cell division so that appropriate gene expression programmes are preserved.

Newcastle University

Name of supervisor(s)
Jonathan Higgins (

Daniel Rico (

Eligibility Criteria
You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree in Molecular Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Genetics, or a related area. A further qualification such as an MRes is advantageous.

This award is available to UK/EU and international applicants.

To study this course you need to meet the following English Language requirements:

IELTS 6.5 overall (with a minimum of 5.5 in all other sub-skills).

How to apply
You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create a new account’ (

Only mandatory fields need to be completed. However, you will need to include the following information:

insert the programme code 8300F* in the programme of study section
select ‘PhD in the Faculty of Medical Sciences – Biosciences as the programme of study
insert the studentship code BI017 in the studentship/partnership reference field
attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote the studentship reference code BI017 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications
* The online application system will only allow one application using the programme code 8300F. If you are applying for TWO or more projects using that code you will need to email our Postgraduate Admissions Service ([Email Address Removed]) with the following information:

your application number (from the first project application you submitted online)
the second studentship code and its corresponding title
a two page covering letter for the second project

Our Postgraduate Admissions Service ( will then forward this information to the relevant selector in the Faculty of Medical Sciences.

Jonathan Higgins

[Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £15,285 (full award). Successful international candidates will be required to make up the difference between UK/EU fees and international fees.

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