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Chromatin architecture of the developing limb

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  • Full or part time
    Prof N Gilbert
    Dr L Paterson
    Prof B Hill
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This is one of five projects being offered in 2017 for one or 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:

During development the precise expression of genes is required to ensure correct body patterning. Limb development is part regulated by the Shh gene which is regulated by a long range enhancer called ZRS, located 800 kb away.

During development we hypothesise there is re-organisation of the genomic locus enabling communication between the ZRS and Shh, however approaches to investigate chromatin folding at super-resolution are not yet available. In this exciting collaboration between the MRC Human Genetics Unit and Heriot Watt university the successful PhD student will optimise a new imaging approach using structured illumination microscopy, microsphere lenses, micro-fluidics and sequential probe hybridisation to map chromatin folding at endogenous genomic loci. Using this approach the student will investigate how 2 Mb of chromatin around the Shh locus are folded in 3D space to understand how promoters and enhancer communicate.

To characterise the molecular mechanisms responsible for folding large-scale chromatin fibres at the Shh locus we will use deletions and mutations to identify critical regulatory elements within the locus that are important for chromatin fibre folding.

How to Apply:

These positions would suit a motivated student who must have obtained a first or upper second class UK BSc honors degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK, in molecular biology or a related discipline by September 2017.

Applicants should submit a CV, which includes the contact details of 2 references (including email addresses) and a covering letter (no more than 1000 words), indicating a specific project of interest and why the applicant wishes to join the PhD programme and project to [Email Address Removed] by 26 February.

Applicants must also submit an online application to our PhD programme via the University of Edinburgh degree finder (EUCLID system) following the instructions at:

We will not consider applications that have not been submitted to both [Email Address Removed] and EUCLID by the closing date.

If you have not heard from us by 13 March please consider your application unsuccessful (we will not be able to provide feedback on unsuccessful applications).


This funded studentship is open only to UK students, or EU students if they have been studying in the UK for the previous 3 years or working in a related discipline in the UK. EU students coming from a discipline related to super-resolution imaging are also eligible to apply.

Funding Notes

The MRC HGU will be funding one or two ESRIC PhD studentships through the University of Edinburgh for 2016 application. Each studentship is funded for a period of 3 years. This includes tuition fees, stipend and bench fees.

Stipend: Students receive a tax free stipend of £17,350 per annum.

Bench Fees: A generous allowance is provided for research consumables and for attending UK and international conferences.


1) Wang S, Zhuang X et al (2016) Science. 353(6299):598-602

2) Anderson E, et al (2014) Development.141(20):3934-43

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