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PhD Studentship in the role of the Wnt-non canonical pathways in the modulation of lipid metabolism in the articular cartilage and osteoarhtritis


Project Description

The project aims to characterise molecular mechanisms involved in the degradation of the articular cartilage in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis (OA), is a major musculoskeletal condition affecting 240 million people worldwide for which no cure exists other than symptomatic relief and surgical joint replacement. Progressive and irreversible articular cartilage degradation is one of the hallmarks of the disease. The development of novel therapeutics relies on the discovery of the molecular pathways maintaining cartilage integrity and capable of triggering a regenerative response in pathological conditions.

Our recent data showed that a tight balance between the Wnt/β-catenin dependent and independent and pathways is required to preserve cartilage health (Nalesso et al, Journal of Cell Biology 2011 IF 9.8, Nalesso et al., Annals of Rheumatic Diseases 2017, IF 12). Nonetheless the understanding of the function of the non-canonical branches in the tissue is still poor. This will be the aim of this studentship. The student will investigate the role of a particular branch of non-canonical signalling on human articular cartilage with a particular focus on lipid synthesis, mitochondrial function and cell membrane composition and permeability.
The student will acquire skills in cell and molecular biology techniques, as well as mass spectrometry applied to lipidomic analysis.

The project will be performed in Dr Giovanna Nalesso’s (https://www.surrey.ac.uk/people/giovanna-nalesso) laboratory at the School of veterinary Medicine at University of Surrey. The School of veterinary medicine fully embraces the “one health” philosophy and encourages projects that can influence both human and animal medicine, as this one. The student will also perform experiments aimed to investigate the role of the non–canonical pathway on mitochondrial activity in Dr Michelangelo Campanella’s (https://www.rvc.ac.uk/about/our-people/michelangelo-campanella) laboratory in London. Mass-spec lipidomic analysis will be done in collaboration with Dr Barbara Fielding (https://www.surrey.ac.uk/people/barbara-fielding) at the University of Surrey.

It is anticipated that this project will result in academic publications, intellectual property and translational potential. Therefore, we are looking for a candidate that is highly motivated to conduct world-leading research.

This is a 3 year project starting in July 2019.

Entry requirements:
Essential Criteria:
• BSc degree (2:1 or above) or European equivalent degree in a relevant scientific or biomedical discipline, acquired or to be acquired
before the beginning of the PhD.
• Self-driven, enthusiastic and a good communicator
• Excellent organisational skills
• Ability to work independently and as part of a team
• Students without English as first language must provide a language certificate (overall IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent).

Desirable:
• Experience in molecular biology and/or in-vitro mammalian cell culture
• MSc degree or equivalent for European students in a biomedical related discipline (acquired or to be obtained before the beginning of the PhD)

EU and international students’ ability of speaking English proficiently will be assessed during the interview.
Nonetheless the possession of a language certificate (overall IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent) would be desirable.

How to apply:
Applications can be made through the School of Veterinary Medicine PhD applications portal https://www.surrey.ac.uk/postgraduate/veterinary-medicine-and-science-phd (click on the “Apply” tab and then select the Veterinary Medicine and Science PhD, full time October 2019. The project will nonetheless start no later than July 2019). Please state the project title and supervisor clearly on the “research proposal” part of the application.

Applicants are welcome to send informal enquiries about the project to the PI Giovanna Nalesso, , before they apply.

Funding Notes

The studentship will cover stipend, tuition and bench fees for both British and European students. Overseas students are welcome to apply, however, overseas tuition fees will not be covered.

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