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Whole Organism Analytics using Free-Living Nematodes


   School of Pharmacy

  , Dr David Scurr, Dr Dong-Hyun Kim  Friday, November 05, 2021  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Nottingham United Kingdom Analytical Chemistry Bioinformatics Biophysics Developmental Biology Ecology Pharmacy

About the Project

AIM: This exciting EPSRC Funded project will aim to determine the physicochemical properties of the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, a free-living worm using next-generation analytical techniques. This will produce a platform that will optimise disease prediction, diagnosis and intervention.

PROJECT: Effective modelling of the physical and chemical properties in humans is challenging. This is because humans are large complex animals, which are not completely understood and can be both scientifically and socio-economically challenging to characterise. Therefore, there is a strong international drive to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research so that this precious resource is reserved.

C. elegans, a free-living worm, is the most completely understood animal on the planet. This is due to its small size (<1 mm), short generation time (<3 days), optical transparency, availability of genetic variants and exclusion from Home Office animal regulations. Researchers working with this organism have received Nobel prizes for advances in genetics, green fluorescent protein labelling and RNA interference. To date, the complete genome, proteome and connectome for C. elegans have been mapped. However, currently there is no readily available metabolic information on C. elegans.

This project will fill the important knowledge gaps in organismal metabolomics in by harnessing the state-of-the-art facilities at the School of Pharmacy and University of Nottingham.  Liquid chromatography will be used to decipher metabolomes for nematode to identify global trends in metabolome similarities and differences. Surface sensitive mass spectrometry will be used to spatially coordinate metabolic shifts in metabolome. Atomic Force microscopy will be used to understand the physical properties. New microscopy and bioinformatic tools will be developed to streamline data analysis and organisation.

IMPACT: The scientific firsts developed as part of this project will be used exciting research at the forefront of physics biology and chemistry. This will be a valuable resource for researchers to improve their understanding of the physiological state of whole organisms and those furthering the knowledge of C. elegans as a model for complex mammalian biochemistry. This will include optimising disease prediction, diagnosis and intervention.

This project will also provide diverse training opportunities for the PhD candidate. With support from the experienced supervisory team. The research conducted will pave-the-way towards establishing new and improved models and analytics for drug delivery to augment understanding of whole organism metabolomics. This will also produce high impact publications and opportunities to disseminate research at international conferences.

The successful candidate will:

 ·        Obtain training required for a career as a multidisciplinary analytical scientist

·        Receive a tax-free full studentship (fees and stipend at UK/EU rates) for 3.5 years

·        Access to world-leading facilities and research equipment.

·        Opportunity to attend conferences and experimental consumable allowance


Funding Notes

This position is available for UK candidates only.
• PhD start date 1st February 2022
• Candidates must possess or expect to obtain, > 2:1 degree in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Pharmacy related scientific discipline, which include Bioinformatics and Mathematics
• The project is suitable for candidates with a scientific background who would like to develop their experimental analytical skills.
• A background in bioinformatics and mathematics is desirable.

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