The University of Exeter Medical School is seeking to appoint a highly motivated PhD student of outstanding ability to join an active research team studying the causes of type 1 diabetes in humans. The successful applicant will be supported by the Arthur and Sadie Pethybridge PhD Studentship funded by Diabetes UK.
Start Date: 1st October 2016
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) affects around 30,000 children and 350,000 adults in the UK. The incidence is rising, and this is especially true in younger children, where the rate is increasing by as much as 4% per annum. This is important because the disease has a significant life-long impact, adversely affecting both the quality of life and the life-expectancy of affected individuals. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the selective destruction of pancreatic beta cells by immune-mediated mechanisms although the precipitating events and the precise mechanisms that underlie beta-cell loss remain unclear.
This project aims to develop an improved understanding of the processes that lead to the selective killing of pancreatic beta cells in patients with type 1 diabetes. This process is still poorly understood in humans but a number of factors have been implicated. In particular, increasing evidence has suggested that the establishment of a persistent, low-level, infection of beta cells with a particular class of viruses ("enteroviruses") may be important in some patients and this project will examine this concept more closely. It will focus on one specific protein, known as PPP1R1A, which controls cellular anti-viral responses and which, unexpectedly, is depleted in certain beta cells during the development of type 1 diabetes. The successful applicant will undertake research to evaluate the hypothesis that: Regulation of beta cell PPP1R1A levels during enteroviral infection is critical to the development of islet autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes.
This goal will be achieved by a series of linked experimental approaches exploiting human pancreas samples from patients with type 1 diabetes as well as in vitro studies with human beta cell lines displaying altered expression of PPP1R1A isoforms. The principal objectives are to:
1. Discover the factors which mediate the loss of PPP1R1A from beta cells in type 1 diabetes
2. Develop human beta cell lines expressing PPP1R1A in a regulated manner
3. Assess the effect of PPP1R1A isoforms on viral response protein activation in human beta-cells
4. Study the influence of PPP1R1A expression on the development and maintenance of a persistent enteroviral infection in 1.1B4 cells
The studentship will be based within the Research, Innovation, Learning & Development Building jointly operated by University of Exeter and the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital. The successful candidate will join a team of active researchers comprising principal investigators, postdoctoral fellows, PhD students and technical staff who are committed to excellence in research. Details of the team and their current research activities can be viewed at: www.isletbiologyexeter.co.uk. Interested candidates are encouraged to contact the supervisors for an informal discussion and to learn more about the team’s research.
Lead supervisor: Professor Noel Morgan ([email protected]
Co-Supervisor: Dr Sarah Richardson ([email protected]
Applicants should be highly motivated and have, or expect to obtain, either a first or upper-second class BSc (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline. International applicants must also have IELTS [International English Language Testing System] score of 7 and above (or equivalent qualification).
How to apply:
Please apply via the application link. Please be aware you will be asked to upload the following documents:
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the specified project).
• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English (see entry requirements http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/english/)
If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email [email protected]
Project specific queries should be directed to the lead supervisor.
We regret that only candidates shortlisted for interview will be contacted.