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PhD Studentship in Diabetes Research – Understanding pancreatic beta-cell autophagy and its regulation by glucose metabolism

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  • Full or part time
    Dr C Arden
  • 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:

October 2019 for 3 years.


The transition from traditional diets towards high sugar / high fat diets is a major driver in the current global epidemic of obesity and the associated rise in incidence of type 2 diabetes. This project will focus on understanding how this change in diet impacts on the survival and function of pancreatic beta-cells, cells pivotal to blood glucose regulation.

It is well established that loss of functional pancreatic beta-cell mass is central to the development of type 2 diabetes. We and others have shown that a cell recycling pathway known as autophagy is essential to regulate beta-cell mass in response to changes in nutrient availability. Importantly, deregulation of this pathway is an important contributor to the beta-cell demise evident in type 2 diabetes. However, how beta-cell autophagy is regulated by nutrients is not well understood. In the current project, the student will investigate a role for glucose sensing in the regulation of beta-cell autophagy, identify the underlying pathways and determine how these mechanisms are altered in type 2 diabetes. This study will provide a useful insight into the mechanisms underlying autophagy deregulation in type 2 diabetes which will be key to the design of more effective therapies to preserve a functional beta-cell mass.

The successful candidate will join a team of experts in beta-cell physiology and autophagy at Newcastle University. The student will receive extensive training in established techniques for the assessment of autophagy, cell death and glucose metabolism, isolation of rodent / human islets, and maintenance of animal models of diabetes, in addition to standard laboratory techniques including immunoprecipitation, western blotting and immunostaining. The student will be encouraged to attend both national and international conferences to present their research. We seek a highly self-motivated, well organised and committed candidate to tackle the significant challenges of this project who is also able to communicate their results and ideas effectively.


Diabetes UK

Name of supervisor(s):

Dr C Arden ( and Professor P Lovat (, Institute of Cellular Medicine (

Eligibility Criteria:

You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree or international equivalent, in a subject relating to cell biology including: molecular biology, biochemistry or biomedical sciences. A further qualification such as an MRes is advantageous. Experience in some experimental work relevant to the project themes is desirable.

This award is available to UK/EU and international applicants. Successful international candidates will be required to make up the difference between the UK/EU fees and international fees, and will not be eligible for a stipend. 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 by creating an account ( To do this please select ‘How to Apply’ and choose the ‘Apply now’ button.

All relevant fields should be completed, but fields marked with a red asterisk must to be completed. The following information will help us to process your application. You will need to:

•click on programme of study
•insert 8300F in the programme code section and click search
•select Programme name ‘PhD in the Faculty of Medical Sciences (full time) – Institute of Cellular Medicine ’
•insert CL114 in the studentship/partnership reference field
•attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code CL114 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 qualification.

*You will not be able to submit your application until you have submitted your degree transcript/s.

You should also send your covering letter and CV to Catherine Arden by email to [Email Address Removed].”

* 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 then you will need to email our Postgraduate Admissions Service ([Email Address Removed]) with the following information:

•your application number (from the first project application that 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.

Funding Notes

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of at least £17,000 (full award).

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