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Training researchers to Diagnose, Understand and Treat Stargardt Disease, a Frequent Inherited Blinding Disorder (StarT)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, December 10, 2018
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

PhD position available at UCL in the framework of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN)

The objectives of StarT are twofold: 1) to give the next generation of European vision researchers unparalleled opportunities to be trained by a consortium of European vision research groups excelling in genomics, transcriptomics, functional genomics, bio-informatics, genome editing, stem cell biology, animal disease models, and therapy development; and 2) to address the knowledge gaps to diagnosing, understanding and treating Stargardt’s disease (STGD1) using innovative approaches related to the aforementioned disciplines.
This is 1 of 14 PhD positions available through StarT for a period of three years (fellowships for Early Stage Researchers / ESR), start date April 1, 2019.

Specifically, one position is available at The UCL Institute of Ophthalmology University College London, United Kingdom (

The UCL project is based on the Pharmacological protein folding manipulation of ABCA4 mutations. The majority of ABCA4 mutations found in STGD1 are missense mutations. Many of those that have been studied in detail (for example R602W, L541P) lead to protein misfolding, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) retention and protein degradation, leading to loss of function. Missense mutations in the related ABC transporter CFTR are also prone to misfolding and respond well to pharmacological manipulation such as Lumacaftor to improve folding and restore function. Here we will test if mutant ABCA4 folding can be improved.

Ideal person specification
High (2:1 or 1st equivalent) academic qualifications to at least BSc level in a relevant subject area within the last 4 years
• High marked (merit or distinction) MSc (or equivalent) in a relevant area
• Laboratory research experience in a relevant area (Project or work experience)
• Ability for critical thinking
• Ability to communicate effectively
• To work diligently and efficiently
• Ability to work to strict deadlines and manage time effectively, good organisational skills
• Ability to write reports and thesis
• Technical aptitude

Duties and Responsibilities
• Standard molecular biology techniques including; plasmid preparation, DNA extraction, PCR genotyping, viral vector development etc
• Cell transfection
• Biochemical assessment of protein and function
• Stem cell culture, immunocytochemistry
• Immunocytochemistry and immunohistochemistry
• Involvement in drafting papers to appropriate peer reviewed journals
• Preparation and completion of PhD thesis
• Preparation of progress reports on research for funding bodies and collaborators as required
• Completion of time sheets
• Contribution to the overall activities of the research team and department as required
• Contribute to the induction and direction of other research staff and students as requested.
• Assist in the day to day running of Professor Cheetham’s labs
• Assist in the maintenance of laboratory equipment
• Preparation of stock solutions
• Generation of computer graphics and slide preparation
• Assist in the implementation of laboratory Health & Safety
• The postholder will actively follow UCL policies including Equal Opportunities and Race Equality policies
• Carry out any other duties as are within the scope, spirit and purpose of the job, the title of the post and its grading as requested by the supervisor and head of research department.

Applicants should submit
•The UCL application form (via the UCL online application site)
and also email or visit
•a personal statement explaining their motivation and project interests and the contact details of 2 academic referees
•a CV (download the format from; other formats are NOT accepted

For more information on the application process, please email or visit

Please note: application deadline is 5pm (UK time) 10 December 2018

Funding Notes

£37,730 - £46,950

Applicants should be in the first 4 years of their research careers since obtaining the degree which entitles them to embark on a doctorate.
Applicants should not have resided or performed their main activity in the country of the host institution (the UK for UCL) for more than 12 months in the 3 year period immediately prior to the start date of the fellowship.

ESR Fellowships only cover the fee levels for EU citizens, not those for students from outside the EU. View Website. Applicants should ensure they are eligible prior to applying.

How good is research at University College London in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 286.60

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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