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Testing the translational power of zebrafish for studying human heart failure (Biosciences) - PhD (Funded)


   College of Life and Environmental Sciences

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  Dr Matthew Winter, Dr Yosuke Ono  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Location:

Biosciences, Streatham Campus, Exeter

The University of Exeter’s Department of Biosciences is inviting applications for a PhD studentship fully-funded by AstraZeneca and the Department to commence on 9 January 2023. For eligible students the studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £16,062 for 4 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. The student would be based in Biosciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

Project Description:

An important step in drug discovery is being able to demonstrate a link between a gene (target), and a disease outcome. In most cases, this is achieved by modifying the gene target to create a loss of function (LoF) model, and studying the resultant impact. We have recently applied this approach to create embryo-larval zebrafish LoF models of genes associated with heart failure in humans (Winter et al., 2022. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2022.827686).

Embryo-larval zebrafish LoF models are quick and simple, and benefit from the ability to directly observe endpoints, such as heart rate and blood flow, due to animal transparency. Such models, however, do not truly replicate the adult human disease and consequently we are now developing approaches to switch on/off genes of interest in adult zebrafish. This studentship will focus on the characterisation of zebrafish LoF models of genes associated with heart failure in humans, developing techniques to allow characterisation of endpoints associated with this disease in older zebrafish, including electrocardiography, histopathology and organ morphometry. The data generated will improve our understanding of the roles of these genes in heart failure; increase understanding of the relevance of zebrafish as a model for studying heart failure in humans; and provide new tools for assessing gene function in adult zebrafish to support target validation more widely. 

The student will join a large and vibrant research community at Exeter and will work as part of a wider team and programme of work focused on the use of zebrafish in human drug discovery and development. The student will also have access to exceptional facilities and expertise at Exeter, and will receive extensive training including in CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in zebrafish, histology, imaging and electrocardiography. The student will also benefit from working closely with experts from the AstraZeneca translational genomics group, which will allow the student to gain insight into research in industry, thus greatly enhancing their long term career prospects.

This award provides annual funding to cover Home tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay Home tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £16,062 per year tax-free stipend. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend. 

International applicants need to be aware that you will have to cover the cost of your student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to do a PhD.

The conditions for eligibility of home fees status are complex and you will need to seek advice if you have moved to or from the UK (or Republic of Ireland) within the past 3 years or have applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Entry Requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. 

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the required level (Profile B) as per our guidance at https://www.exeter.ac.uk/pg-research/apply/english/

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload the following: 

• CV

• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).

• Names of two referees familiar with your academic work. You are not required to obtain references yourself. We will request references directly from your referees if you are shortlisted.

• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on Thursday 8th September 2022

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email [Email Address Removed] or phone 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers) +44 (0) 1392 723044 (EU/International callers) 

Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor ([Email Address Removed]).

For further information and to submit an application please visit - https://www.exeter.ac.uk/study/funding/award/?id=4489


Funding Notes

This award provides annual funding to cover Home tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay Home tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £16,062 per year tax-free stipend. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend.
International applicants need to be aware that you will have to cover the cost of your student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to do a PhD.
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