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White Rose BBSRC DTP studentship: Engineered non-antibody binding protein Affimers for cryo-electron microscopy and tomography


   Faculty of Biological Sciences


Leeds United Kingdom Bioinformatics Structural Biology

About the Project

This project is about developing non-antibody binding proteins to determine unsolved protein structures using cryo-EM. We will focus on determining protein structures of the centrosome, the largest membrane-less protein complex in animal cells.

Cryo-EM has enabled us to see atomic structures of challenging macromolecular assembles including amyloid fibres, SARS-CoV-2 and also protein structures in cells. However, challenges remain to determine structures of small proteins and large macromolecular complexes such as organelles. One such example is the centrosome.

The centrosome is the main microtubule-organising centre in animal cells and important for generating cilia. Abnormal centrosome structures are often seen in cancer cells and cause developmental issues. Thus, the correct assembly of centrosomes is central to our health. We currently do not know how >100 different constituent proteins assemble to make the centrosome. With this information, we will be able to gain insight into why some of centrosomal gene mutations cause abnormal development and are favoured in cancer cells, and into how to treat diseases caused by those mutations.

A major problem is there is no efficient method to observe the atomic structure of the centrosome. Thus, in this project, we would like to develop novel protein tools to resolve the problem.

Funding Note

This studentship is part of the BBSRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology. (https://www.whiterose-mechanisticbiology-dtp.ac.uk/). Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 4 years. The funding includes:

Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£15,609 for 2021/22 starts. Awards increase every year, typically with inflation).

UK tuition fees (Around £4,500 per year)

Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG)

Conference and Professional Internships for PhD Students (PIPS) allowances

We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from inside and outside the UK. We are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.

Not all projects will be funded; the DTP will appoint a limited number of candidates via a competitive process.

How to apply

Applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable).

To help us identify that you are applying for this studentship project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert
  • For source of funding please state you are applying for a White Rose BBSRC DTP funded studentship

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