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White Rose BBSRC DTP studentship: Multifunctional membrane interfaces for solute transport and signal transduction in artificial cells


   Faculty of Biological Sciences


Leeds United Kingdom Bioinformatics Cell Biology

About the Project

Artificial cells and organelles are seen as a stepping-stone to understanding how life works and are being developed to create novel cell-like biotechnologies. They are typically vesicles made from phospholipids within which biochemical functions are reconstituted. Harnessing membrane transport of biochemical signals and reaction substrates into and out of these systems is an important feature of a functional artificial cell. Such systems will have broad-ranging applications, including development of ultrasmart metabolite-responsive drug delivery systems for treatment of diseases such as cancer.

In this project you will design and construct multifunctional membrane interfaces that actively transport metabolites against concentration gradients and respond to chemical signals in their environment to trigger the release of drug molecules. We have a broad range of membrane proteins at our disposal to allow creative design of novel systems, including V-ATPase for creating transmembrane potentials, GalP for active glucose transport and drug-efflux proteins such as AceI. You will utilise novel methods that we have recently developed for detergent-free integration of membrane proteins into highly durable membranes.

You will learn skills in expression, purification, reconstitution and functional characterisation of membrane proteins. Quantitative imaging methods will be used to study the functional properties of the artificial cells you create.

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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