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The role of the Laminin 332-Actin-Cholesterol axis in skin conditions with altered lipid profiles

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M Caley
    Prof E O'Toole
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted

Project Description

The skin’s epidermal barrier plays a vital role in protecting the body from excessive water loss, environmental chemicals and microbial infection. The skin barrier can be disrupted by injury, underlying genetic conditions, inflammation, environmental changes and by age leading to easily-damaged skin. Investigations of some skin conditions have identified increased corneocyte accumulation as well as alterations in both the composition of skin lipids and their total abundance. Studying rare inherited skin diseases we have identified a link between the basement membrane protein laminin 332 and skin lipids. We believe the same mechanism is responsible for the loss of skin lipids in some common skin/scalp conditions.

The aim of this BBSRC Unilever Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) PhD studentship is to investigate the mechanism underlying skin lipid biology and identify new strategies for the treatment of specific skin conditions. We will utilise existing skin samples, isolated keratinocytes and laminin knockdown cell lines to investigate the effect of laminin 332 expression on skin barrier formation and skin lipids. The student will have the opportunity to gain experience in cell and molecular biology techniques, 3D skin models, imaging (including live cell and confocal imaging), SFC-MS/MS lipid analysis and Electron-microscopy.

The project is in collaboration with Unilever and will include a three-month industrial placement consisting of several blocks during the course of the PhD at Unilever’s Colworth research lab and Unilever’s Liverpool labs. The student will also connect with various Unilever experts to provide insights into how science moves from technologies into products on the market, gain awareness of brands and consumer needs beyond skin.

Within the Blizard, the graduate will have access to a wide variety of cutting-edge technologies and core facilities, as well as interaction with leading international researchers across a wide range of biomedical disciplines.

The successful completion of this project will significantly impact our understanding of skin biology. The programme of study will provide an outstanding training opportunity for a student interested in both basic science and how this is translated into real world products.

Supervisors: Dr Matthew Caley (QMUL), Professor Edel O’Toole (QMUL), Dr David Messenger (Unilever) and Dr Andrew Mayes (Unilever).

Entry Requirements
A graduate with an interest in cell and molecular biology with (or expecting) at least an upper second class honours degree is required for this project to commence in October 2020. A Masters degree in a relevant subject and/or experience in cell biology or related subject area is desirable.

NOTE: Application eligibility is unaffected by Brexit. The UK Government has guaranteed EU eligibility for Research Council funding for PhDs beginning before the end of the 2020-21 academic year. Further details below under ’Funding Notes’.

Interviews will take place at the beginning of June 2020

Funding Notes

The Studentship is funded by a BBSRC CTP Award with Unilever for a duration of four years to commence in October 2020 and covers UK/EU tuition fees a RCUK London stipend of £17,009 with an industry top up of £4000.

This opportunity is only open to UK nationals (or EU students) who have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the Studentship (with some further constraint regarding residence for education).


For more information regarding the project, please contact Dr Matthew Caley ([email protected])

Applications should be submitted through the Queen Mary application system accessible via the red 'Visit Website' button below.

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