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Transcriptional regulation of intestinal stem cells during ageing

School of Biosciences

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Dr J Korzelius No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Ageing is a complex phenomenon that can be defined as a decline of organism function over time. Many cellular processes are altered during the course of life and contribute to the loss of function of many organ systems with advanced age. A major challenge for the future of ageing research is to dissect how these different cellular processes work together to promote functional decline. These processes can then hopefully be modulated in a way to prevent age-related decline. Due to its short lifespan and sophisticated genetic tools, the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) is an ideal model system to tackle the molecular mechanisms behind age-related organ decline. We use the Drosophila intestine as a model system for age-related decline of organ function. Similar to the mammalian small intestine and colon, the fly intestine is maintained by a population of adult Intestinal Stem Cells (ISCs). Our previous work has identified many of the transcriptional controls that govern ISC maintenance and differentiation (Korzelius et al., 2014 EMBO Journal, Korzelius et al., 2019 Nature Communications).

This PhD project will investigate how ISC maintenance and differentiation change during aging, focusing on some of the key transcription factors important for ISC maintenance and differentiation. This project will allow you to build skills working with different types of whole genome datasets (RNA-Seq, DamID) as well as building skills in genetics, molecular biology and image analysis. We will e.g. perform crosses with inducible expression of RNAi’s, lifespan assays, microdissection and staining of gut tissue and FACS-isolation of midgut cell populations for whole genome RNA-sequencing.

You will work in the dynamic environment of the School of Biosciences at the University of Kent. The School of Biosciences has a rich expertise on Cancer and Ageing research, and we will have close connections to the ageing-related research in the labs of Dr. Jennifer Tullet and Dr. Marina Ezcurra. You will also be able to work with our collaborators in Germany at renowned institutes such as the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne and the FLI-Leibniz Institute on Aging in Jena as well as Genentech Inc. in San Francisco, U.S.A.

We are looking for a curiosity-driving student that works both independently and as part of a team and is interested in a multi-disciplinary research project. The ideal candidate should have knowledge of molecular biology techniques such as DNA/RNA-isolation, PCR and cloning as well as genetics. Additional experience in either Drosophila husbandry and genetics, bio-informatics or immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy would be an advantage. Excellent writing and communication skills in English are necessary.

The Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) provides a postgraduate research student with financial support in return for 96 hours per year of teaching. The stipend paid equals the full UK Research Council rate plus tuition fees at the home/EU rate. International applicants should make provision to meet the difference between Home /EU and International fees.

Stipend equals UK Research Council rate of £15,285 (rate for 2020/21), plus tuition fees covered at the rate for UK/EU students.
UK, EU and overseas fee paying students are invited to apply. International applicants should make provision to meet the difference between Home /EU and International fees. Please note that overseas students must have the appropriate documentation to evidence eligibility to work in the UK

Funding Notes

Applicants are required to submit a formal application for postgraduate research study at the University of Kent at
Enquire with a CV and cover letter directly to: [Email Address Removed]
Applications can be made using the online University application page where the project title should be entered as the proposed area of research and Dr Jerome Korzelius as supervisor. Please include a CV and a cover letter Further scholarship details can be found at:


The WT1-like transcription factor Klumpfuss maintains lineage commitment of enterocyte progenitors in the Drosophila intestine. Korzelius J, Azami S, Ronnen-Oron T, Koch P, Baldauf M, Meier E, Rodriguez-Fernandez IA, Groth M, Sousa-Victor P, Jasper H. Nat Commun. 2019 Sep 11;10(1):4123. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12003-0.

Escargot maintains stemness and suppresses differentiation in Drosophila intestinal stem cells. Korzelius J, Naumann SK, Loza-Coll MA, Chan JS, Dutta D, Oberheim J, Gläßer C, Southall TD, Brand AH, Jones DL, Edgar BA. EMBO J. 2014 Dec 17;33(24):2967-82. doi: 10.15252/embj.201489072.
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