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Platelets in health, ageing and disease: new diagnostics and treatments


   Department of Biomedical Sciences

   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Platelets are small blood cells that play a vital role in the chronic and acute progression of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), and also have roles in immunity, inflammation, cancer metastasis, Alzheimer's disease and a range of infections, such as dengue, HIV-1, malaria, and COVID-19. In the UK, and other countries, 98% of all patients with coronary heart disease receive anti-platelet therapy. There were 38.6 million prescriptions for anti-platelet drugs in England in 2013, an increase from 3.6 million in 1991, and 18.9 million in 2001 (Bhatnagar et al, Heart 2015). Thrombotic disease, however, is still a leading cause of morbidity and mortality emphasising the need for more refined, safer and more effective anti-platelet strategies.

The Jones lab has projects available focusing on the drivers and consequences of variation in platelet function. Within this broader remit we currently have a number of specific focuses:

1) develop platelet function tests that more accurately reflect the action of platelets in thrombosis,

2) develop point-of-care platelet function tests using microfluidics and smart phone technology,

3) develop machine-learning approaches to automate analysis of thrombus formation,

4) investigate the molecular mechanisms and identify potential drug targets that drive variation in the rate of platelet response,

5) investigate the effect of mutation in carbonic anhydrases on platelet activation and thrombus formation.

For this project, full training will be provided in a range of biochemistry techniques include (but not limited to) – western blot, immunoprecipitation, PCR, flow cytometry, confocal and super-resolution (dSTORM) microscopy, manipulation of megakaryocytic cell lines (using CRISPR-Cas9 system).

Dr Jones’ Lab:

Based within the new Health and Life Sciences building, Dr Jones’ lab sits within the Reading Platelet Group which is home to one of the most vibrant platelet research communities in the world – comprising six academic staff whose focus is platelet biology, over 30 post-docs and PhD students and collaborative projects that span the Biological Sciences, Pharmacy, Nutrition, Biomedical Engineering, and Maths.

School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading:

The University of Reading, located west of London, England, provides world-class research education programs. The University’s main Whiteknights Campus is set in 130 hectares of beautiful parkland, a 30-minute train ride to central London and 40 minutes from London Heathrow airport.

Our School of Biological Sciences conducts high-impact research, tackling current global challenges faced by society and the planet. Our research ranges from understanding and improving human health and combating disease, through to understanding evolutionary processes and uncovering new ways to protect the natural world. In 2020, we moved into a stunning new ~£60 million Health & Life Sciences building. This state-of-the-art facility is purpose-built for science research and teaching. It houses the Cole Museum of Zoology, a café and social spaces.

In the School of Biological Sciences, you will be joining a vibrant community of ~180 PhD students representing ~40 nationalities. Our students publish in high-impact journals, present at international conferences, and organise a range of exciting outreach and public engagement activities.

During your PhD at the University of Reading, you will expand your research knowledge and skills, receiving supervision in one-to-one and small group sessions. You will have access to cutting-edge technology and learn the latest research techniques. We also provide dedicated training in important transferable skills that will support your career aspirations. If English is not your first language, the University's excellent International Study and Language Institute will help you develop your academic English skills. The University of Reading is a welcoming community for people of all faiths and cultures. We are committed to a healthy work-life balance and will work to ensure that you are supported personally and academically.

Eligibility:

Applicants should have a good degree in biology, biochemistry, biomedical science, biomedical engineering or a strongly-related discipline. Applicants will also need to meet the University’s English Language requirements. We offer pre-sessional courses that can help with meeting these requirements.

How to apply:

Submit an application for a PhD in Biological Sciences at http://www.reading.ac.uk/pgapply.

Further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/biologicalsciences/SchoolofBiologicalSciences/PhD/sbs-phd.aspx

Enquiries: Dr. Chris Jones, email:


Funding Notes

We welcome applications from self-funded students worldwide for this project. If you are applying to an international funding scheme, we encourage you to get in contact as we may be able to support you in your application.

References

Sahli, K. A., Flora, G. D., Sasikumar, P., Maghrabi, A. H., Holbrook, L., Alouda, S. K., Elgheznawy, A., Sage, T., Stainer, A., Adiyaman, R., AboHassan, M., Crescente, M., Kriek, N., Vaiyapuri, S., Bye, A., Unsworth, A., Jones, C., McGuffin, L. and Gibbins, J. (2020) Structural, functional and mechanistic insights uncover the fundamental role of orphan connexin 62 in platelets. Blood. (in press).
Ferreira, P., Bozbas, E., Tannetta, D., Alroqaiba, N., Zhou, R., Crawley, J., Gibbins, J., Jones, C., Ahnstrom, J. and Yaqoob, P. (2020) Mode of induction of platelet-derived extracellular vesicles is a critical determinant of their phenotype and function. Scientific Reports, 10 (1). 18061

Stefanini L, Lee RH, Paul DS, O'Shaughnessy EC, Ghalloussi D, Jones CI, Boulaftali Y, Poe KO, Piatt R, Kechele DO, Caron KM, Hahn KM, Gibbins JM and Bergmeier W. (2018) Functional redundancy between RAP1 isoforms in murine platelet production and function. Blood. 2018;132(8):1951-1962.
Unsworth AJ, Bye AP, Tannetta DS, Desborough MJR, Kriek N, Sage T, Allan HE, Crescente M, Yaqoob P, Warner TD, Jones CI, Gibbins JM. Farnesoid X Receptor and Liver X Receptor Ligands Initiate Formation of Coated Platelets. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2017, 37(8):1482-1493.
Ilkan Z, Wright JR, Goodall AH, Gibbins JM, Jones CI, Mahaut-Smith MP. Evidence for shear-mediated Ca2+ entry through mechanosensitive cation channels in human platelets and a megakaryocytic cell line. J Biol Chem 2017, 292(22):9204-9217.
Salehe BR, Jones CI, Di Fatta G, McGuffin LJ. RAPIDSNPs: A new computational pipeline for rapidly identifying key genetic variants reveals previously unidentified SNPs that are significantly associated with individual platelet responses. PLoS One 2017, 12(4):e0175957.
Jones CI. Platelet function and ageing. Mamm Genome. 2016, 27(7-8):358-66.
Please also see Dr Chris Jones’ academic profile:
http://www.reading.ac.uk/biologicalsciences/SchoolofBiologicalSciences/Meetourteam/staff/c-i-jones.aspx

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