PhD opportunity

This page is to showcase the Omics-related PhD projects in the University of Leeds


Title: Novel Gene-Diet Interactions and Determinants of Health in High-Risk Minority Groups

Contact person: Michael A. Zulyniak (

Deadline: Friday, March 29, 2019

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Title: Understanding cellular signaling networks via protein-conjugated chemical tools

Project description: Proteins form spatially organized, dynamic complexes in cells, giving rise to signalling networks essential for maintaining cellular function. In this project, you will develop new tools for directly labelling proteins in their native cellular environment. Our approach uses Affimers (small antibody alternatives) to direct the transfer of labels from a chemical tool to a target protein. You will design and synthesise tools that exploit different transfer chemistries and labels, and express and purify Affimers that bind target proteins implicated in cancer. This toolset will be used to track proteins via live cell and super-resolution imaging, and to tag proteins and their interacting partners for isolation and analysis by proteomics. You will apply this platform to analyse proteins central to signalling networks that are dysregulated in cancer.

For this interdisciplinary project, you will join an ongoing collaboration of three groups with expertise in chemical biology/proteomics (Dr Wright), protein engineering (Dr Tomlinson) and super-resolution imaging (Prof. Peckham). This project would ideally suit a candidate with synthetic chemistry skills and a strong interest in applying chemistry to biological problems.

Omics component: This project will involve the use of quantitative, high resolution mass spectrometry-based proteomics to identify the proteins that are labelled by the tools in cells.

Contact person: Dr. Megan Wright (

Deadline: Monday, January 07, 2019

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Title: Structure and function of specialised ribosomes in the Drosophila melanogaster brain and testis

Project description: This project aims to understand how changes in ribosome composition alters ribosome structure and how this enables ribosomes to translate specific mRNA pools.?

Omics component: It will be using 2 omics approaches Ribo-Seq and TMT (quantitative mass spec).

Contact person: Julie Aspden (

Deadline: Monday, January 07, 2019

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Title: Determining the role of molecular co-chaperones in virus infection: a novel antiviral approach

Project description: Viruses are associated with approximately 10-15% of human cancers, resulting in about 2 million new cases every year in the world. Research in the Whitehouse laboratory determines how viruses cause cancer and in collaboration with the Foster laboratory develops novel antiviral strategies to prevent infection and tumourigenesis. This project focusses on molecular chaperone pathways which are essential for protein homeostasis, particularly in cancers. For oncogenic viruses, molecular chaperones function as broad host factors required for viral protein folding and stability. Therefore viral proteins are exquisitely sensitive to perturbations in chaperone-related pathways, presenting a novel antiviral target. We have exciting data showing that the molecular co-chaperone, STIP1, is essential for the replication of the oncogenic virus, KSHV. This project will determine the role of molecular chaperones in KSHV biology and determine if inhibiting molecular co-chaperone function is a potential therapeutic approach for the treatment of this important human pathogen. This exciting multidisciplinary project will utilise cutting-edge methodology including quantitative proteomics, cell biology and medicinal chemistry.

Contact person: Adrian Whitehouse (

Deadline: Monday, January 07, 2019

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Title: MicroRNA evolution in placental mammals: Unravelling conservation and divergence in their regulatory mechanisms in early pregnancy in different placental mammals

Project description: This project brings together, in a novel manner, the research areas of placental and uterine biology, computational molecular evolutionary biology, as well as microRNA regulation to understand how miRNAs may have contributed to the emergence of placental mammals. The main focus of this project will be to undertake wet bench analysis to understand the role of phylogenetically restricted miRNAs and the genes they regulate.

Omics component: microRNA sequencing

Contact person: Niamh Forde (

Deadline: Monday, January 07, 2019

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Title: Mining large international genetic datasets to identify new therapeutic targets in giant cell arteritis through innovative genetic methodology

Contact person: Jenny Barrett (



Title: Gene expression network analysis to identify candidate drivers of treatment resistance in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM)

Project descriptionThe aim of this project is to assess the transcriptional changes across GBM gene expression networks during therapy to highlight candidate molecules responsible for conferring (or facilitating transcriptional reprogramming to) a more treatment resistant state. This will be done using our existing, novel high-coverage RNAseq data (from pairs of primary and recurrent patient GBMs), supplemented with that being produced within a global consortium that we are part of.

Omics component: Transcriptomics data in the form of RNAseq, with the possibility to integrate genomic data (WES and WGS) from the same samples

Contact people: Alastair Droop ( or Lucy Stead (

Deadline: Monday, January 21, 2019

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