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PhD Studentship (Fixed Term)


Using parasites to regenerate muscle

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship position funded by the Department of Pathology and the Rosetrees Trust to start from January 2018. Funding will cover the student's stipend at the current Research Council rate and University Fees and laboratory consumable costs. The studentship is only available to UK nationals and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements*.

The successful candidate will join Dr Katerina Artavanis-Tsakonas' laboratory to investigate how parasite-derived proteins can be used to remodel muscle. The human parasitic worm, Trichinella spiralis, has been shown to selectively infect terminally differentiated skeletal muscle cells effectively "stabilizing" them. It does not destroy its host cell, but rather invades it and reprograms it by means of its secretions. Since this "peaceful" interaction hinges on myotube reprogramming rather than destruction, exploring elements of T. spiralis development provides an experimental paradigm for the remodelling and regeneration of skeletal myotubes. Moreover, the cellular pathways engaged when T. spiralis worms first establish infection display striking parallels with the processes mediating muscle repair. Invasion is followed by changes to host cell gene transcription which cause the de-differentiation of the muscle cell and its re-entry into the cell cycle. This project aims to identify the parasite factors that mediate these changes to uncover novel mechanisms by which to promote muscle regeneration. Leveraging these same mechanisms could counter effects of muscle wasting associated with ageing and disease. By expressing these proteins in muscle cell lines, we aim to characterize their effects through biochemical and cell biological approaches and assess whether these parasite elements can potentially be used to stabilize, transform and regenerate terminally differentiated cells. We have proteomically screened the T. spiralis secreted fraction and identified a group of proteins with no known homologs in other organisms. The aim of this project will be to identify those with modulatory effects on cell cycle and characterize their mechanism of action.

Candidates should have a first or upper second class degree in biochemistry, cell biology or biological/medical science and should possess excellent written and oral communication skills. The post-holder should be highly motivated and able to work as part of a team. The Department requires that by the time of interview all potential students must have fulfilled the language requirements for admission (http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/blpapdpth/requirements).

** Further information about the UK residency requirements and your fee status can be found at the following website: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/fees/what-my-fee-status . Applications from ineligible candidates will not be considered.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 3 years in the first instance.

Apply by visiting http://www.path.cam.ac.uk/graduate/fully-funded-studentships/artavanis-tsakonas

The deadline for applications is 15th September 2017. Informal queries regarding this studentship may be made to Dr Katerina Artavanis-Tsakonas, ka447@cam.ac.uk. General queries should be directed to jobs@path.cam.ac.uk or 01223 333940.

Please quote reference PK12864 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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