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Observing the molecular machinery of exocytosis.

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Colin Rickman
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This is one of five projects being offered in 2017 for one of two three year PhD students available in the Edinburgh Super-Resolution Interdisciplinary Consortium. ESRIC is a centre of excellence for super-resolution microscopy. Utilising expertise in molecular and cellular biology from the MRC Human Genetics Unit (HGU) at the University of Edinburgh and Biophysics from the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering within Heriot-Watt University our collaboration enables cutting edge research at the interface of biology and biophotonics. ESRIC houses state-of-the-art imaging technologies alongside molecular and cell biology facilities whilst the ESRIC PhD programme offers the opportunity to gain interdisciplinary experience to address important research questions relevant for normal biology and human disease. As part of the PhD students will attend the Royal Microscopical Society accredited ESRIC summer-school and they will participate in our HGU PhD training programme.

Project Description:

Exocytosis is the release of material from intracellular vesicular compartments in to the extracellular space. This is a fundamental process occurring in every cell of the body in a constitutive manner. However, specialised cells (such as neurons and neuroendocrine cells) have developed a regulated form of exocytosis to allow coordinated signalling in response to a stimulus. Regulated exocytosis is catalysed by a class of proteins called the SNARE proteins. While we know a large amount about how these proteins function, from in vitro biochemical studies, the spatial and temporal interactions in cells is unknown. Understanding how these proteins function is key to understanding a range of secretory pathologies including neuropathies, schizophrenia and diabetes.

In this project, we will utilise super-resolution microscopy to observe the spatial patterns of the secretory SNAREs throughout the fusion cycle. Principally we will use the PALM and dSTORM techniques to observe with single molecule fidelity, the spatial organisation of populations of SNARE proteins and their regulators. In addition, we will develop new tools to observe different protein-protein interactions and protein conformations at the single molecule level. Together, these investigations will map the whole secretory cycle in a cellular context.

This project will provide thorough training and expertise in molecular biology, protein biochemistry, cell biology and advanced microscopy techniques. In addition the successful candidate will benefit from a broad range of transferrable skill and personal development courses, interaction with other students through our successful postgraduate society and opportunities to present their work at international conferences.

Enquiries should be sent by email to Dr Colin Rickman:
[Email Address Removed]

The position would suit an enthusiastic student who must have obtained a first or 2.1 UK BSc Honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK, in biochemistry or a related discipline. Previous laboratory experience is also desirable.

Applicants should send a CV, the contact details of 2 references (including email addresses) and a covering letter, explaining why the applicant wishes to carry out this project, by email to Mrs Maureen Franks:
[Email Address Removed]

Interviews are expected to take place in early March 2017.

It is anticipated that the PhD Studentship will start before September 2017.

Funding Notes

This ESRIC and James Watt prize studentship is fully funded for 36 months with an annual tax-exempt maintenance of £15,000 and all fees paid in full.


Dr Colin Rickman - www.rickmanlab.org
Edinburgh Super-resolution Imaging Consortium - www.esric.org

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