School of Biosciences

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Current PhD opportunities

The School of Biosciences is please to announce funding for 4 or 5 PhD studentships to start in September 2017.

Applicants are invited to apply for any of the 17 projects available  4 or 5 studentships will be awarded to the strongest candidates from across the range of projects. Interviews will take place in mid-April.

Funding: Each studentship will pay an annual stipend at the UK Research Council rate of £14,553 (rate for 2017/2018) and cover tuition fees at the rate for UK/ EU students. International applicants must make provision to meet the difference between Home and International fees.The studentship is offered as a Graduate Teaching Assistantship which requires the student to carry out a number of hours of teaching / teaching support duties in the School of Biosciences. 

To apply: Please email the relevant supervisor with a CV and a covering letter.  Please copy the email to Geraldine Travers (g.e.travers@kent.ac.uk).

Deadline: 5pm - 31 March 2017

In addition, the School of Biosciences has two specific, externally-funded funded projects for which we also welcome applications (click on the title for details):

Genomic diversity and bioethanol production using the yeast Pichia stipitis

Supervisor: Dr Alessia Buscaino

Project: A funded PhD position is available to analyse genome plasticity in the yeast Pichia stipitis

Biofuels have become important because of the depletion of fossil fuel energy sources. Lignocelluloses are generated in large concentration as waste following agricultural, and forestry processing operations. Lignocellulose is a heteropolymer composed of pentose sugars (such as xylose) and hexose sugars (such as glucose). Due to its high sugar content lignocellulose is an ideal substrate for bioethanol production. However, whereas the traditional yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae can efficiently ferment hexose sugars, it cannot ferment pentose sugars such as xylose. Given that xylose constitutes 10-40% of the total carbohydrate found in lignocellulose, the bioethanol yield could be increased by 25% through the use of an efficient xylose-fermenting. Pichia stipitis is a yeast closely related to Candida albicans and it has the highest capacity for xylose fermentation of any known microorganism. Different P. stipitis isolates vary in their ability to ferment ethanol but the genetic basis underlying this improved ethanol production is largely unknown. Therefore, very little is known of Pichia stipitis genomic diversity and its contribution to ethanol production. In this project, the PhD student will investigate whether and how genomic plasticity contribute to Pichia stipitis biology. The project will provide advanced training in the techniques involved in analysing genome structure and function as well as bioethanol production.

This cross-disciplinary research project requires expertise in genome structure and dynamics, bio-ethanol production and Pichia Stipitis biology. The successful candidate will be based at the University of Kent's main campus in Canterbury, and work under the supervision of Dr Alessia Buscaino (http://www.kentfungalgroup.com/dr-alessia-buscaino) and of Dr Tom Clarke (University of East Anglia). This PhD Studentship is due to start in September 2017.

Entry requirements: Applicants should have or expect to obtain a first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in Genetics, Molecular Biology or a related subject.

Funding: The studentship will pay an annual stipend at the UK Research Council rate of £14,553 (rate for 2017/2018) and cover tuition fees at the rate for UK/ EU students. International applicants must make provision to meet the difference between Home and International fees. The studentship is offered as a Graduate Teaching Assistantship which requires the student to carry out a number of hours of teaching / teaching support duties in the School of Biosciences.
For further information please contact Dr Alessia Buscaino

How to apply: To apply for this project please submit an on-line application via the University application page. Please enter the project title as the proposed research topic and enter Dr Alessia Buscaino as the supervisor. For the research proposal please enter "as advertised". Please include a cv and a covering letter.

Deadline Date for Applications: 20/04/2017

Interviews will take place in week commencing: 01/05/2017

 

 

Exploitation of protein targeting pathways for biopharmaceutical production in E. coli

Supervisor: Professor Colin Robinson

Project:

The market for recombinant biopharmaceuticals such as antibody fragments, growth factors, hormones and other biologically-based medicines is estimated to be over $160 billion p.a. [1], with antibody products accounting for a large proportion of these sales [1-2]. Over a third of currently-licensed proteins are produced in Escherichia. coli, where 'export' out of the cytoplasm to the periplasm is a favoured strategy. This minimises downstream processing (DSP) costs because (i) the target protein can be purified from the relatively simple periplasmic contents, and (ii) this strategy avoids debris and DNA contamination which are serious DSP problems.
There is a clear need for simpler, more cost-effective platforms to cope with current demand, and more capable E. coli-based systems would provide the ideal solution. This project aims to use synthetic biology approaches to develop new platforms that are based on the Tat protein export pathway in E. coli.

Aims of the project. The student will be involved in the following research:

1. Investigation of the Tat 'substrate proofreading' activity. As well as being able to transport folded proteins, the Tat system has a natural tendency to transport only correctly folded proteins. This is a remarkable trait and this project will investigate the molecular basis for this ability. We have developed Tat mutants that show an altered substrate proofreading mechanism and the aim will be to determine how these Tat systems have been changed, and what they see as 'folded'.
2. Development of super-secreting E. coli strains. We have recently developed E. coli strains that overexpress Tat system components, and these strains exhibit significantly higher rates of Tat-dependent protein export. One of the project aims will be to test these strains' abilities to secrete a range of ultra high value target proteins, particularly more complex proteins that cannot be exported by the traditional Sec pathway.

Training aspects of the project. The project will provide advanced training in the techniques involved in biopharmaceutical production, including design, expression and characterisation of target molecules, together with engineering of E. coli host strains.

References.
[1]. http://www.avitide.com/biopharmaceutical-purification-overview/.
[2]. Jagschies G (2008). Int BioPharm 21(10).
[3]. Matos et al. (2014). Biotech. Prog. 30, 281-290.
[4]. Alanen et al. (2015). Biochim. Biophys. Acta - Mol. Cell Res. 1853, 756-763.

Start Date: September 2017

Entry requirements: The successful candidate should have or expect to obtain a degree of 2(i) or higher in Biochemistry, Biology, Biotechnology or a related subject.

Funding and Eligibility: The studentship will pay an annual stipend at the UK Research Council rate of £14,553 (rate for 2017/2018) and cover tuition fees at the rate for UK/ EU students. International applicants should make provision to fund the difference between Home and International fees. The studentship is offered as a Graduate Teaching Assistantship which requires the student to carry out a number of hours of teaching / teaching support duties in the School of Biosciences.

How to apply: To apply for this project please submit an on-line application for the PhD Cell Biology. Please enter the project title as the proposed research topic and enter Prof Colin Robinson as the supervisor. For the research proposal please enter "as advertised". Please include a cv and a covering letter.

Informal enquiries may be sent to Prof Colin Robinson

Closing date for applications: 31 March 2017

 

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Enquiries: Phone: +44 (0)1227 823743

School of Biosciences, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NJ

Last Updated: 29/03/2017