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PhD Studentship – Investigating mitochondrial derived vesicles and their relationship to Parkinson’s pathology

School of Biological Sciences

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Friday 06 March 2020
Reference:  1233320BJ

PhD Supervisor: David A. Tumbarello                  co-supervisor: Roxana Carare

PhD Description:  

Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD studentship aimed at investigating the cellular mechanisms of a mitochondrial repair pathway with broad implications in many conditions from Parkinson's to cardiomyopathies. This studentship project will particularly investigate how a specific adaptor protein complex regulates the trafficking of damaged mitochondrial cargo, via small mitochondrial derived vesicles, to the lysosome. This will involve interrogating the function of key protein complexes implicated in regulating mitochondrial derived vesicles and determining their relationship to the machinery that regulates cargo transfer within the endosomal system. This project will also investigate the implications of these mitochondrial quality control pathways in primary neurons harvested from a Parkinson’s disease model. These details are important to understand because the mitochondria are prone to substantial damage throughout life and therefore efficient quality control of these damaged organelles is essential to maintain the healthy state of the cell and to limit production of harmful products that would otherwise lead to cell death. 

Skills and Environment: 

The PhD candidate will gain experience in cell biology approaches, combining molecular biology, biochemical and advanced microscopy techniques in both established cell lines and primary neurons to investigate the mechanisms of mitochondrial quality control. The project will also use siRNA and gene editing techniques, such as CRISPR-Cas9, to interrogate protein function and use localisation studies to understand spatiotemporal regulation of these processes. Alongside laboratory skills, the PhD candidate will gain experience in presentation skills, writing for publication, as well as a number of postgraduate courses offered in Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton.  

Applicants should have an undergraduate degree with a minimum 2:1 in biological sciences, biomedical sciences, neuroscience or related discipline and/or Masters (MSc or MRes) at Merit/Distinction level (>60%).In addition, applicants should be enthusiastic, self-driven, have a strong interest in cell & molecular biology, alongside an interest in using experimental approaches to interrogate the fundamentals of cell biology to understand their relationship to disease pathology. Having skills in statistics, image analysis, and experimental design are highly desirable.

The project is funded for 3.5 years and welcomes applicants from the UK and EU who have or expect to obtain at least an upper second class degree in Biological Sciences or allied subjects. Funding will cover fees and a stipend at current research council rates of £15,009 per annum for 2019/20. Subject to rise for 2020/21.

Due to funding restrictions this position is only open to UK/EU applicants.

Applications for a PhD in Biological Sciences should be submitted online at:

https://studentrecords.soton.ac.uk/BNNRPROD/bzsksrch.P_Login?pos=4973&majr=4973&term=202021  Please place David Tumbarello in the field for proposed supervisor.

General enquiries should be made to Dr David Tumbarello at D.A.Tumbarello@soton.ac.uk   Any queries on the application process should be made to fels-pgr-apply@soton.ac.uk

Applications will be considered in the order that they are received, and the position will be considered filled when a suitable candidate has been identified.

Interviews will be held towards end of March 2020.

The University of Southampton and the School of Biological Sciences both hold an Athena Swan Silver Award, demonstrating their commitment to provide equal opportunities and to advance the representation of women in STEM/M subjects: science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. Due consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a career break. University benefits include onsite childcare facilities, state-of-the-art on-campus sports, arts and culture facilities, a full programme of events and a range of staff discounts.

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