University of Cambridge

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Developing a biosensor toolbox for key signalling pathways

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies for a Healthy and Sustainable Future, in collaboration with AstraZeneca, is inviting applications for a fully funded 1+3 years MRes+PhD studentship, commencing in October 2021. The studentship will be hosted in Dr Gabriele Kaminski Schierle's group ( in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology. In this project you will develop a biosensor toolbox to investigate key signalling pathways. Signalling pathways mediate cell-cell interactions and coordinate cellular responses to external stimuli. Many common chronic diseases are caused by aberrant signalling and most drugs act directly or indirectly on specific signalling events to mediate their therapeutic effects. Examination of second messengers and immediate downstream protein-protein interactions have been challenging due to the lack of reliable and sensitive tools that enable time-resolved tracking of signalling events and crosstalk between signalling pathways.

Specific objectives of the project include implementing an automated fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) workflow to study phenotype function relationships using cell based assays. You will use technology that combines advanced photonic sensor technologies, automation, and machine learning for the analysis of large data volumes. You will apply this technology to perform experiments with live cell models and learn how to construct and apply a range of advanced biosensors. Taking FLIM and spectral recordings at defined time points from samples subjected to different conditions will permit you, for example, to study dose response effects of candidate drugs supplied by AstraZeneca or to gain fundamental mechanistic insights of the cellular response to treatment. To complete this project, you will work both at the University of Cambridge and with colleagues at AstraZeneca.

The studentship is fully-funded for 4-years and the student will be enrolled in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies for a Healthy and Sustainable Future ( The first year involves a highly interdisciplinary programme consisting of lectures, research and team projects covering a wide range of technologies sensing and imaging. Successful completion of the first year will lead to a Master of Research qualification (MRes) and optimal preparation for the PhD project in years 2-4. Additional training in potency assay development and assay qualification and further insights into industrial drug development activities will be provided by the AstraZeneca team involved in this project. We are seeking a highly motivated individual with a strong academic background, as demonstrated with a 1st class degree, or equivalent, in biophysics, bioengineering or a related relevant discipline. Demonstrable competency in computational data analysis, in particular using machine learning approaches, is an advantage.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 4 years.

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Gabriele Kaminski Schierle ( To apply for this position please visit

The deadline for applications is 21 May 2021. Note that only candidates who qualify for the Home fees rate are eligible for this studentship. You can check whether you qualify for the Home fee rate here:

Please quote reference NQ26426 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.