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Physics of functional and pathological protein aggregation

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

Project Description

We are inviting applications for a fully funded 3.5-year PhD studentship in the area of computational and theoretical biophysics, carried out jointly in the Department of Physics & Astronomy and the Institute for the Physics of Living Systems (IPLS) at UCL. IPLS is a dynamic interdisciplinary institute, with a goal to promote physical approaches to biology, and catalyse interactions between theorists and experimentalist.

The newly established research group of Dr Andela Saric uses computer simulations and techniques from soft matter and statistical physics, to address biologically relevant questions. We are seeking a bright and motivated PhD student to contribute to understanding pathways of functional and pathological protein assembly. The fundamental question we ask is: how does a large number of macromolecules collectively assemble into microscopic aggregates under various environmental factors, that can be either functional or pathological. Two examples include functional dynamic aggregation of protein fibrils in the extracellular matrix, rigorously controlled by the cell, and uncontrolled aggregation of proteins into amyloid plaques, involved in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Microscopic mechanisms of these biological processes are difficult to directly probe experimentally, and unattainable via fully atomistic computer simulations. Our goal is to identify them using simple physical (coarse-grained) models and statistical physics. Our strategy is to obtain observables which can be directly compared with experimental measurements. This will give us insights into how cells regulate functional assembly, and how to circumvent pathological protein aggregation. The project involves collaboration with experimental groups, in Cambridge and the London area.

The student will gain a detailed understanding of computer simulations and scientific computing, as well as a broad knowledge of soft matter and biophysics. Candidates with a high grade point average Bachelor’s, MSci or Master’s degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Chemistry, Applied Maths, or related disciplines, interested in answering biological questions, are encouraged to apply. Previous exposure to computer programming is desirable.

More information on Dr. Andela Saric can be found at: http://www.andelasaric.com
More information on the Department of Physics and Astronomy can be found at http://www.phys.ucl.ac.uk.
More information on the Institute for the Physics of Living Systems can be found at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/physics-living-systems.

Qualified, eligible and motivated candidates should send their CV, a brief statement, and contacts of two referees to Dr Andela Saric ([email protected]), highlighting academic excellence and previous research experience. Early applications are advisable.

Funding Notes

The stipend is £16,057 p.a. and tuition fees will be covered. Funding is available to UK and EU/EEA candidates.


[1] A. Šarić, Y. C. Chebaro, T. P. J. Knowles and D. Frenkel, PNAS 111, 17869 (2014)

[2] A. Šarić, G. Meisl, A. K. Buell, T. C. T. Michaels, S. Linse, T. P. J. Knowles and D. Frenkel, under review (2015).

How good is research at University College London in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 110.53

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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