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WR DTP project: Hormonal Determinants of Estrogen Receptor Binding and Response

Department of Biology

About the Project

The Estrogen Receptor (ER) plays a central role in breast development, and when it goes wrong, in disease. A key question in tissue development is what causes different cells to show a coordinated response to the molecular messages and how is this regulation maintained.

Estrogen is lipid-soluble and diffuses across cell membranes. As a result, the ER is a nuclear receptor. On activation, the ER directly binds to genomic DNA at thousands of locations and turns-on nearby genes.

This research aims to elucidate the role of other hormones in defining the underlying chromatin landscape, which restricts where ER can bind to DNA, thereby defining which genes respond to estrogen.

To achieve our goal, we will combine single-cell RNA sequencing with a modified ER. Our modified ER will leave markers on nearby DNA enabling us to monitor how other hormones define where ER can bind. While single-cell sequencing enables us to monitor the response to estrogen and how it varies between individual cells.

By understanding this fundamental biology of breast tissue development, the results of this research will inform future treatments for disease and support the development of new strategies for regenerative medicine.

The ideal candidate should have a background in molecular, cell or developmental biology.

The White Rose DTP in Mechanistic Biology is committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.

Funding Notes

This project is part of the BBSRC White Rose Doctoral Training Programme in Mechanistic Biology. Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 4 years. The funding includes:

Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£15,285 for 2020/21)
UK tuition fees (£4,473 for 2021/22)
Research support and training charges (RSTC)

International candidates (including EU) will be considered however they will need to have adequate funds to meet the difference in tuition fees. International tuition fees for 2021 entry is £22,250.

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


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions. If English is not your first language, you will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for your country. Please check our website:

START DATE: 1st October 2021

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