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Job Opportunities


PhD Studentship - Metabolic reprogramming in human ES/iPS cell models of neurodegenerative disease

PhD project title: Metabolic reprogramming in human ES/iPS cell models of neurodegenerative disease

Supervisors: Lia Panman (MRC Toxicology Unit, University of Cambridge) Muireann Coen (AstraZeneca) Will Redfern (AstraZeneca)

Project description The Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit, is an internationally renowned institution focussed on the delivery of field-changing mechanistic insights into toxicology and disease.

The Unit is part of the University of Cambridge; it is currently located in Leicester and will be relocating to Cambridge in early 2020. Candidates will therefore be undertaking the first part of their PhD at the Unit's current premises in Leicester. The Unit is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and provides a supportive learning environment designed to meet the scientific and transferable skills required for an internationally competitive career.

Students will be registered with the University of Cambridge for the duration of the studentship. Successful applicants will enjoy membership of a University of Cambridge College from commencement of their PhD in October 2018, but will initially have only limited access to College facilities due to the location of the Unit. The studentship if funded by the MRC Integrative-Toxicology Training Partnership (ITTP) and the training includes courses covering aspects of toxicology and molecular sciences. A part of the project will be carried out at AstraZeneca (Cambridge) and Imperial College (London) in collaboration with Muireann Coen and Will Redfern

This studentship is for four years commencing October 2018 with an annual stipend of £15,000 (tax free).

Project Outline

Neurodegenerative diseases result in the selective death of highly vulnerable neuronal populations and it has been proposed that this is due to both genetic and environmental factors. The emergence of embryonic stem (ES) cell technology has provided us with significant opportunities for exploring toxicity of chemical compounds in selective neuronal populations. However, to use ES cells it is important that the relevant cell types are being generated. In our lab we have established a novel approach to differentiate human ES cells into a population of dopamine neurons that is highly sensitive and selectively degenerates in Parkinson's disease. The student will use human ES and iPS cell derived cultures of dopaminergic neurons to gain novel mechanistic insight into the selective sensitivity of these neurons and the onset of Parkinson's disease using cutting edge technologies. In collaboration with AstraZeneca we will apply our technology and we will determine the metabolic profile for several chemical compounds in human ES and iPS cell derived SN dopaminergic neurons.

There are a variety of training modules and courses which students are encouraged to attend. In addition, students follow the Toxicology Unit's weekly external and internal seminar programs and are included in the postdoc/student forums which take place each month and offer excellent opportunities for collaboration and career development.

Candidates must expect to obtain qualifications at the level of a first-class or 2.1 Honours Degree in a biological science or related discipline.

Fixed-term: 4 years.

Funding Notes

Candidates must expect to obtain qualifications at the level of a first-class or 2.1 Honours Degree in a biological science or related discipline and to fully satisfy the residence requirements of the UK Research Councils.

A fees-only award will be available to EU nationals who are not ordinarily resident in the UK. Students who are liable for fees at the 'overseas' rate are not eligible for these studentships.

To be eligible for a full award (stipend and university fees) a student must have:

  • Settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long they can stay
  • Been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for three years prior to the start of the studentship. This means they must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences)
  • Not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education (this does not apply to UK or EU nationals)

This advert will remain open until 30th June 2018 or until a suitable candidate is found. Please check the Toxicology Unit website for updates

Applications must be made via the University's online Applicant Portal:

Further information on the Panman lab can be found at:

Queries regarding the project and your suitability can be sent in the first instance to: Dr. Lia Panman:

Please quote reference PU15460 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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