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Designing novel mRNA-based therapeutic approaches for delivery of genetic material to treat human diseases

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  • Full or part time
    Prof M Bushell
    Prof A Willis
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

The MRC Integrative-Toxicology Training Partnership (ITTP) is managed through the MRC Toxicology Unit . The Toxicology Unit is located at the University of Leicester and will be relocating to the University of Cambridge in early 2020.

The Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit, is an internationally renowned institution focussed on the delivery of field-changing mechanistic insights into toxicology and disease. The Toxicology Unit is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and provides a supportive learning environment designed to meet the scientific and transferable skills required for an internationally competitive career.

This research studentship is 3 years duration and also includes taught courses in a wide range of aspects of toxicology and pertinent advances in molecular sciences. The emphasis is on aligning modern cell, molecular and systems biology with other fundamental and health-related disciplines to provide an integrative, holistic approach relevant to translational toxicology research and training. The annual stipend is £15,000 per annum (tax free).


The delivery of genetic material to treat human diseases is a major challenge in the development of next generation drugs due to limitations in current technologies. In recent years DNA and viral delivery systems have attracted the most attention; however, they have come under criticism due to low efficacy, genetic transfer risk and poor control over dose delivered. More recently, with the development of modified nucleotides, in vitro transcribed mRNA molecules have been successfully used for the delivery of genetic information without risk of genomic integration. The relatively low half-life of RNA when compared to DNA-based methods also allows precise control over final protein dosage. However, currently a number of issues still remain and need to be addressed before further applications can be realised.

The aim of this PhD studentship is to design new methods for delivering genetic materials to mammalian systems, overcoming the current limitations to these technologies.

Training Objectives

The project represents an ideal opportunity to learn a range of state-of-the-art techniques relevant to gene expression control and the data will have implications for the development and treatment of cancers.

The University of Leicester runs a variety of training modules and courses which student are encouraged to attend. In addition, the student will follow the Toxicology Unit’s weekly external and internal seminar programs and be included in the postdoc/student forums which take place each month and offer excellent opportunities for collaboration and career development.

This studentship is available immediately.

This advert will remain open until a suitable candidate is found.

Funding Notes

Funding Notes:

Candidates must expect to obtain qualifications at the level of a first-class or 2.1 Honours Degree in a biological science or related discipline.

Full funding available for UK applicants and EU applicants meeting residency requirements; fees-only for EU applicants.

Applications from self-funded or sponsored overseas (non-EU) students will be considered.

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