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  White Rose BBSRC DTP: Investigating the impact of PRMT-catalysed methylation on RBP:RNA interactions, mRNP granule formation (LLPS), structural dynamics and gene regulation

   White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership

  Dr P B Walrad, Dr M Plevin  Sunday, January 07, 2024  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Leishmaniasis is the second deadliest parasitic disease with over 1.2M new cases each year across 98 countries. The Walrad and Plevin labs are long term collaborators and part of the York Biomedical Research Institute, one of the largest groups of researchers working on leishmaniasis, with partnerships in >20 countries.  Our labs investigate Leishmania gene regulatory pathways to find parasite vulnerabilities using complementary in vitro and in vivo multidisciplinary approaches. Gene regulation in Leishmania parasites is overwhelmingly post-transcriptional and dynamic regulatory complexes (mRNPs) fluctuate in response to cellular stimuli, enabling survival.

 Stress granules (SGs) represent a diverse group of mRNP-regulating membraneless organelles formed by liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS). mRNPs oscillate between SGs and the translational machinery and promote parasite endurance during transitions between host environments. You will investigate mRNP dynamics as they relate to Leishmania stress granules. The project will enable you to learn a wide variety of skills, including kinetoplastid genetics, biochemistry, molecular parasitology and proteome/transcriptome analysis. Good opportunities for travel and conference participation are available, with key collaborations in place both internally and externally.

About the DTP

This studentship is offered as part of the White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) in Mechanistic Biology, which brings together the research of the world-class molecular and cellular bioscience centres at the White Rose universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York.

Our mission is to train excellent bio-scientists who understand how living systems work and can innovate to address global challenges, such as the impact of climate change, a healthier old age, sustainable food production, land use and energy production.

What is on offer?

This is a core studentship for entry in October 2024.  

Join us and you will receive a 4-year, funded PhD programme of research and skills training, with cross-disciplinary supervision, plus a structured programme of cohort-wide training and networking events. A highlight is the annual symposium, which is planned and delivered by students.

A unique part of your training will be the Professional Internships for PhD Students (PIPS), where you will spend three months at a host organisation of your choosing, gaining experience of work in a professional environment, and acquiring transferable skills that will be beneficial in your future career.

How to apply – Expression of Interest

Students may apply for up to three projects anywhere in the Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP).  Applications will be to the DTP centrally, using an online Expression of Interest (EoI). The EoI will include:

§ CV information; not submitted separately

§ Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) data

§ Names of two referees

Deadline for EoIs is midnight Sunday 7th January 2024.

Submit EoIs using this link:

Shortlisted candidates will be required to make formal applications to the Graduate School at each institution, supplying the necessary paperwork.

Interviews will be held either Friday 2nd and Monday 5th to Friday 9th February, or Monday 19th to Friday 23rd and Monday 26th February 2024, in-person at Leeds, Sheffield and York, with a panel representing all 3 Universities. Shortlisted candidates will be notified of a specific time/date to attend. If you have applied for more than one project and are selected for interview, you will be interviewed only once. 


Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

Appointed candidates will be fully funded for 4 years:
 Tax-free annual stipend at the UKRI rate. The rate for starters in 2023/24 was £18,622. (Rates for 2024/25 starters are not yet available).
 UKRI tuition fees – These are paid directly to the host institution.
 A Research Training and Support Grant
 An allowance for Fieldwork/Conference/Travel
 A Professional Internship for PhD Students (PIPS) allowance
Not all projects will be funded; the DTP will appoint a limited number of candidates via a competitive process.


1. PRMT7 regulates RNA-binding capacity and protein stability in Leishmania parasites. Ferreira TR, Dowle AA, Parry E, Alves-Ferreira EVC, Hogg K, Kolokousi F, Larson TR, Plevin MJ, Cruz AK, Walrad PB. Nucleic Acids Res. 2020 Jun 4;48(10):5511-5526. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkaa211.
2. Arginine Methyltransferases as Regulators of RNA-Binding Protein Activities in Pathogenic Kinetoplastids. Campagnaro GD, Nay E, Plevin MJ, Cruz AK, Walrad PB. Front Mol Biosci. 2021 Jun 11;8:692668. doi: 10.3389/fmolb.2021.692668.
3. The mRNA-bound Proteome of Leishmania mexicana: Novel Genetic Insight into an Ancient Parasite. Pablos LM, Ferreira TR, Dowle AA, Forrester S, Parry E, Newling K, Walrad PB. Mol Cell Proteomics. 2019 Jul;18(7):1271-1284.
doi: 10.1074/mcp.RA118.001307.
4. High-speed, three-dimensional imaging reveals chemotactic behaviour specific to human-infective Leishmania parasites. Findlay RC, Osman M, Spence KA, Kaye PM, Walrad PB, Wilson LG. Elife. 2021 Jun 28;10:e65051.
doi: 10.7554/eLife.65051.
- PI; BBSRC Impact Acceleration Award (with Procter and Gamble);
£35k; “Novel reagents for detecting microbial contamination during
manufacture of personal care products.” 2023. Other applicants: J
Moir, M Fascione, S Johnson (York)
- PI; BBSRC Impact Acceleration Award; £30k; “A novel protein
expression tag: application to the production of challenging proteins
and antibody development.” 2023. Other applications: K Bridge, S
Sweeney (York)
- Co-I, Leverhulme Trust; £196k (100%) “Metal-mediated tools for
expanding protein function”, 2022-2025. Lead: Chris Spicer (York).
Other applicants: I Fairlamb (York)
- PI; EPSRC IAA / Wellcome Trust ISSF Centre for Future Health
(York); £143k (100%) “A new non-antibody scaffold for in situ
detection of pathogens in wastewater”; 2022-23
- Co-I; EPSRC Physics of Life; £1.9M; “The York Physics of Pyrenoids
Project (YP3). Nanostructured Biological Liquid-Liquid Phase
Separation: Next-Level-Complexity Physics of CO2-fixing Organelle
Self-Assembly”; 2022-2025; Leads: Prof T McLeish and Prof L
Mackinder. Other applicants: M Leake (York).
- Co-I; BBSRC Impact Acceleration Award (with Oxford Nanopore
Technologies); £70k; “Adapting an archaeal helicase for use in a
DNA nanopore sequencer” 2021-22; Lead Prof J Chong
- PI; BBSRC Impact Acceleration Award (with Eluceda, Burnley);
£32k; “Engineering proteins to detect molecular signatures of
counterfeit products.” 2021-22
- Co-I; BBSRC Alert 19 (BB/T017805/1); £750k (100%); “X-ray
Diffraction Equipment for Macromolecular Crystallography at York”;
Lead, Prof G Davies (York); 2020
- PI; BBSRC Technology and Resource Development Fund; £150k;
;Functionalisation of highly aggregation-resistant protein scaffolds for
transformative and broad utility in bioscience and biotechnology;
- Co-I; MRC (MR/S019472/1);£1.15M; “UK:Brazil Joint Centre
Partnership in leishmaniasis”; Leads, Prof J Mottram (UK) and A
Cruz (Brazil); 2019-22