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Using high-resolution mass spectrometry as a tool to dissect protein complexes within microbiology

   School of Biosciences

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  Dr Aneika Leney  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Mass spectrometry is becoming an increasingly important tool in microbiology. This advancing technology is rapidly being applied to push boundaries in our understanding of protein systems. Yet, trained personnel who can operate and apply this state-of-the-art technology are limited. Throughout the PhD, you will gain hands on training in state-of-the-art mass spectrometry techniques associated with the analysis of proteins and protein complexes for its application in a variety of biological areas.

Initially, the project will focus on the colourful and fluorescent proteins within cyanobacteria. These exciting microorganisms are one of the oldest life forms on the planet and have evolved for billions of years making them really excel at what they do. Within them are complex protein machineries, termed phycobilisomes, that transfer light with remarkable efficiency. The project will involve using a combination of biophysical techniques combined with mass spectrometry to understand how these tiny protein machines operate with the view to using them to transmit light within solar panel devices. Within this phycobilisome, the research group you will be involved in, are also interested in a protein complex, termed phycocyanin, that is blue and fluoresces red. This has applications within the food industry, the biotechnological application of which will be explored further within this PhD project.

In the final years, the PhD student will apply mass spectrometry to solve other biological problems and will have several projects on-going side-by-side to enhance their probability of success. These could include projects on lipid transport, membrane protein complexation and protein trafficking. Thus after completion of the PhD, many career paths will be possible.

Birmingham has an excellent reputation in mass spectrometry research. Ideal applicants will have a strong background in biochemistry. Applicants do not need experience in mass spectrometry but should be quick learners and enthusiastic to learn mass spectrometry-based techniques.

Please contact Aneika Leney for more details: email: [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

The project will be funded through the Darwin Trust scheme. (
Darwin studentships pay a stipend for 4 years (£18,794 per year) and covers costs associated with tuition feeds. Additionally, up to £1,200 is available for attending a conference in year 3/4.
Studentships will normally start on 1 October 2023.
Please note: A studentship will not be awarded to an applicant who is a UK national. Applicants must have obtained either their first degree, or their first Masters degree, no more than five years prior to the closing date for applications to the Trust.


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