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Structural Characterisation of Novel Membrane Ion Channels (Chinese candidates / China mainland only)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, January 08, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Research in the Pliotas group ( focuses on the investigation of molecular mechanisms which underlie the structure and function of integral membrane proteins, in particular ion channels. These systems form pores in the cell membrane and allow the passage of solutes and molecules. Most genetically studied human diseases are due to malfunctions of these proteins, and the majority of drugs, target them.

A multi-disciplinary approach combining structural, e.g. Cryo Electron Microscopy (CryoEM) and Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) spectroscopy and functional, e.g. Single Molecule Electrophysiology will be facilitated to investigate gating and regulation of novel ion channels.

We are seeking a highly motivated and talented individual interested in undertaking a very challenging, exciting and fully funded PhD project in the laboratory of Dr Christos Pliotas. The project aims at obtaining and solving novel high-resolution 3-Dimensional structures by CryoEM of ion channels in distinct conformational states. Emerging structures will be interrogated by PELDOR (or DEER) spectroscopy for their validity within lipid/native environment and will be subsequently linked to function using single molecule methodologies.

CryoEM facilities in the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology ( at the University of Leeds are world-leading due to a recent £17 million investment within the centre for advanced structural biological research equipment including 2 x Titan KRIOS 300kV electron microscopes for CryoEM, a 950MHz NMR Bruker spectrometer and state-of-the-art instruments for native mass spectrometry. The project will also involve regular trips to the St Andrews and Manchester EPR facilities, which are both truly world-leading (Bruker EMX cw-X-Band, Bruker E580 pulse X-Band, Bruker E580 pulse X/Q-band and a home-built pulse W-band (HIPER/St Andrews).

The University of Leeds is among the Russell Group of research intensive Universities. The University is among the top ten rated Universities in the United Kingdom and among the top one hundred rated in the world.

Funding Notes
More details about the funding, scholarship and details of the scheme could be found here:

Funding Notes

Candidates must be citizens or permanent residents of the People's Republic of China and meet University of Leeds language entry requirements. More details about eligibility requirements can be found here:
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Highly motivated candidates should hold a Bachelor's degree from a prestigious international or UK university with an overall mark of 85% or above (First class honours), and/or a Masters degree. Publication(s) in a related field are highly desirable.
Experience in chemical and/or structural biology of membrane proteins is advantageous.
Motivated and eligible candidates should directly contact Dr Christos Pliotas () for informal project and application enquiries.


(1) Kapsalis et al., Nature Communications. “Allosteric Activation of an Ion Channel Triggered by Modification of Mechanosensitive Nano-pockets” (2019).
(2) Pliotas, C., Methods in Enzymology. “Ion Channel Conformation and Oligomerization Assessment by Site-Directed Spin Labeling and Pulsed-EPR” 2017, 594, 203-242
(3) Pliotas et al, Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. “The Role of Lipids in Mechanosensation” (2015). doi:10.1038/nsmb.3120
(4) Pliotas et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. “Conformational State of the MscS Mechanosensitive Channel in Solution Revealed by Pulsed Electron – Electron Double Resonance ( PELDOR ) Spectroscopy” (2012). doi:10.1073/pnas.1202286109.

How good is research at University of Leeds in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 60.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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