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RNA processing and eukaryotic gene expression

   School of Biosciences

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  Dr S Brogna  Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Pre-mRNA processing and other RNA based mechanisms expand the genome functionality much above that possible with combinatorial regulatory networks based on single-protein genes. The added plasticity associated with alternative pre-mRNA processing and non-protein-coding RNAs is probably what has allowed the evolution of complex structures such as the animal brain. It is envisaged that furthering the understanding of these mechanism will provide additional tools to treat human diseases caused by mutations altering RNA metabolism.

Our research is directed toward further understanding some as yet not well understood aspects of pre-mRNA processing and we are particularly interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms that connect pre-mRNA processing with translation. In this regard we study nonsense mediated mRNA decay (NMD) and the molecular mechanism linking it with pre-mRNA splicing. We are also investigating whether ribosomal subunits have a nuclear function and in particular if they associate with nuclear transcripts.

We are looking to recruit highly motivated PhD students in any of the following projects. All projects will provide training in advance molecular biology techniques, Drosophila or yeast molecular genetics and, depending of the project, cutting edge imaging microscopy.
1) Characterization of the NMD pathway in fission yeast S. pombe
2) Investigation of the link between pre-mRNA processing, mRNP biogenesis and NMD in Drosophila
3) Tagging and tracking of ribosomal subunits in the nucleus.


To find out more about studying for a PhD at the University of Birmingham, including full details of the research undertaken in each school, the funding opportunities for each subject, and guidance on making your application, you can now order your copy of the new Doctoral Research Prospectus, at: www.birmingham.ac.uk/students/drp.aspx

Please find additional funding text below. For further funding details, please see the ‘Funding’ section.

The School of Biosciences offers a number of UK Research Council (e.g. BBSRC, NERC) PhD studentships each year. Fully funded research council studentships are normally only available to UK nationals (or EU nationals resident in the UK) but part-funded studentships may be available to EU applicants resident outside of the UK. The deadline for applications for research council studentships is in January each year.

Each year we also have a number of fully funded Darwin Trust Scholarships. These are provided by the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh and are for non-UK students wishing to undertake a PhD in the general area of Molecular Microbiology. The deadline for this scheme is also in January each year.

Please note the only funding available for our PhD is via the Scholarships mentioned. All applicants should indicate in their applications how they intend to fund their studies. Any academically suitable applicant that does not indicate how they intend to fund their studies will be considered for the Darwin and/or the Elite Scholarships if not already indicated. We can only consider applicants who have their own funding or wish to apply for their own funding or are successful in gaining a Scholarship.

Funding Notes

Research Council Studentships are available for UK applicants. EU applicants resident in the UK may also be eligible. Non-UK students interested in molecular microbiology may apply for a Darwin Trust Scholarship. The deadline for applications for Research Council and Darwin Trust studentships is 31st January 2014.

We have a thriving community of International PhD students and encourage applications at any time from students of any nationality either able to fund their own studies or who wish to apply for their own funding (e.g. Commonwealth Scholarship Council, Islamic Development Bank).

For further information on funding see http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/biosciences/courses/postgraduate/phd.aspx


Brogna S, Wen J. Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) mechanisms. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2009 16(2):107-13.

Wen J, Brogna S. Splicing-dependent NMD does not require the EJC in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. EMBO J. 2010 29(9):1537-51.

De S, Brogna S. Are ribosomal proteins present at transcription sites on or off ribosomal subunits? Biochem Soc Trans. 2010 38(6):1543-7.

De, S., Varsally, W., Falciani, F., and Brogna, S. (2011). Ribosomal proteins' association with transcription sites peaks at tRNA genes in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. RNA 17, 1713-1726.

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