Research projects and supervisors
The biggest considerations when choosing to study for an MSc, PhD or MPhil are the project and supervisor. You're very welcome to discuss research projects with potential supervisors. The most successful are defined by a distinct strength and knowledge of a subject area. The list of potential projects is indicative – please contact members of staff directly for more information.
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Further contact details for Biomedical and Life Sciences staff can be found below.Our staff
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My lab works within the theme of genome stability, with two main points of focus: (1) molecular mechanisms of DNA repair in unicellular eukaryotic parasites and (2) the DNA damage response in skin cells in response to UV and other damaging agents. I am able to offer projects in either of these two areas and would welcome applications from prospective PhD and MSc students. Please contact me for further details.
I can generally welcome PhD and MSc by Research students interested in studying: (1) the spatiotemporal dynamics of gut host-microbiota interactions in C. elegans, (2) organismal death in C. elegans, (3) the role of intercellular variability in cancer progression (in collaboration with Dr Richard Mort). (4) cell bioenergetics in cancer and ageing (collaborations with Dr Richard Mort and Pr Aneta Stefanovska) (5) epithelium tissue/organoid-on-chip (collaboration with Dr Caroline Weight) Key areas for research projects in 2024-2025: (1) Investigating brain activity at death in C. elegans (collaboration with HHMI Janelia Farms, expect short/longer-term visits there). (2) A fluorescent microbiota model for live monitoring of gut-microbe interactions during C. elegans ageing (collaboration with CAU Kiele in Germany, expect short visits there). (3) Probiotics to improve animal thermotolerance (collaboration with QUB and Glasgow U, expect short visits there). For initial enquiries, students should email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org, referring to a specific MRes or PhD project flavor in the email subject. CVs welcome.
I have projects available for self-funding PhD and Masters by Research candidates. Age is the major risk factor for the major causes of death in humans. Therefore I investigate the basic biology and the genetics of ageing with the aim of delaying the onset of ageing-related changes so that healthy lifespan is extended. To discover and test potential drug targets and therapies I use the model organism Drosophila. I welcome enquiries from students interested in this rapidly moving and very exciting area. I also have a bioinformatics MRes project to investigate nuclear-mitochondrial genetic interaction effects on human health using UKBiobank data. I have a PhD or MRes project to characterize small-molecule antimicrobials and antivirals (including SARS CoV2) derived from a novel source. We are close to patenting this.
I am always very happy to discuss MSc by Research and PhD projects, in the field of cancer cell biology. We are particularly interested in using novel therapies to specifically inhibit the growth of aggressive cancer types, such as triple-negative breast cancer and metastatic uveal melanoma. We are also interested in cell-cycle and cell migration defects in cancer. Can currently offer projects in several areas including: 1. Validation of novel cancer therapies in aggressive cancers. 2. Cell cycle defects in cancer 3. Understanding and targeting centrosome amplification in cancer. 4. The interplay between DNA damage, the cell cycle and centrosome amplification. Projects typically involve multiple techniques, including cell culture, fixed and live cell microscopy, cell growth assays and flow cytometry. Image analysis of high-content live cell imaging data is another technique used in some projects.
I would be happy to hear from prospective students at MSc by Research or PhD level to discuss supervision of projects in the fields of Immunology and Inflammation research. My group works on fat associated lymphoid clusters and investigates how such novel immune structures co ordinate body cavity immune responses during allergy, infection and disease. Projects include 1. Investigations into the role of locally produced chemokines in mesothelioma like inflammation in the pleural space 2. Understanding how macrophages recognise oxidised phospholipids 3. Investigating the role of FALCs in activation of a local immune response against multi-cellular parasites such as Schistosoma mansoni and Trypanosoma brucei. 4. Understanding how antibodies control macrophage lipid usage during inflammation.
I can offer PhD and MSc by research projects in the following areas of research: (1) The developmental cell biology of African trypanosomes. (2) Trypanosomes as models to study proteins implicated in human ciliary diseases. Please contact me for further details. (No funded positions are currently available).
I can offer PhD and MSc by research projects on either melanocytes and melanoma or cell/tissue biosensors. Please contact me for further details. The Mort Lab are looking for self-funded MSc by Research (MRes) students to develop new DNA damage biosensors or to investigate the role of mechanical forces in melanocyte development. MSc Project 1: Developing multicistronic biosensors of proliferation and DNA damage. Help us generate next generation biosensors that allow us to monitor DNA damage status and cell cycle stage using the Fucci 1-3 (fluorescence ubiquitination cell cycle indicator) system in living cells as tools for cancer research. MSc Project 2: Investigating the role of mechanical forces on melanocyte and melanoblast behaviour. Melanoblasts are able to migrate and proliferate extensively as they colonise the expanding epidermis 4 during embryonic development. But how do the physical forces exerted on the tissue influence this behaviour? This project will build tissue and cell stretching devices using Lego5 to investigate the influence of physical forces on melanocyte behaviour. Contact: email@example.com 1. Sakaue-Sawano A. et al. Visualizing spatiotemporal dynamics of multicellular cell-cycle progression. Cell 132:487-98 (2008). 2. Mort, R. L. et al. Fucci2a: A bicistronic cell cycle reporter that allows Cre mediated tissue specific expression in mice. Cell Cycle 13, (2014). 3. Sakaue-Sawano A. et al. Genetically Encoded Tools for Optical Dissection of the Mammalian Cell Cycle. Mol. Cell 2;68(3):626-640.e5 (2017). 4. Mort, R. L. et al. Reconciling diverse mammalian pigmentation patterns with a fundamental mathematical model. Nat. Commun. 7, (2016). 5. Boulter E. et al. Cyclic uniaxial mechanical stretching of cells using a LEGO® parts-based mechanical stretcher system. J Cell Sci 133 (1): jcs234666, (2020).
Various Masters by Research and PhD projects are available on a self-funded or part funded basis including: Developing neuron specific inducible cell expression systems and potential gene therapies for the study and treatment/prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, elucidating the role of soluble amyloid precursor protein fragments in Alzheimer’s disease, investigating the role of neurexin proteolysis in Alzheimer’s disease, and the role of Jagged1 on prostate cancer metastasis.
Projects available in my lab include investigating the role of intestinal microbiota, and associated signaling pathways, in diseases such as cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and neurological conditions. I'm also interested in how microbes train the immune response to protect or predispose individuals to disease and influence treatments or therapies, including recovery from surgery and immunotherapy. Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss a specific area of study for PhD or Master by Research projects.
PhD positions and MSc Research posts are available in the Robinson laboratory in the following areas: (i) maintenance of genomic stability (DNA replication and repair mechanism) (ii) protein homeostasis (ubiquitin-like modifications and protein turnover). The laboratory specialises in the use of model archaeal systems to study these fundamental cellular processes which underpin a variety of disease states including cancer and neurodegeneration. Please email me for further information regarding funding and project specifics. http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fhm/about-us/people/nicholas-robinson
My laboratory works on the innate immune system and host-pathogen interactions. We are particularly interested in the molecular mechanisms of how cells detect DNA in the cytosol, and how nuclear DNA damage and replication stress act as danger signal for the immune system. Some examples of potential Masters by Research projects are: 1. How do poxviruses evade detection by the innate immune system? 2. How is intracellular DNA detected as "stranger" and "danger" signal? 3. Has our innate immune system evolved from ancient anti-viral defences in Archaea? (joint project with Nick Robinson) 4. Does oncogene-induced replication stress drive inflammation in cancer? 5. How are DNA sensing factors activated in autoinflammatory conditions?
My laboratory is also able to offer self-funded PhD and MRes projects to students interested in exploring the biology of the parasites Trypanosoma brucei and Leishmania species, which are the causative agents of both human and animal diseases in many developing countries. We can offer projects studying i. how the parasites sense and adapt to their host environment, ii. regulation of the cell division cycle, and iii. the link between parasite infection and behavioral changes in the host. Please email email@example.com for further details.
Cannabinoid receptor signalling bias in ex vivo intestinal organoids. Importance of physiological levels of oxygen and energy sources in validating GI epithelial cell models of inflammation and cancer. Contribution of enteroendocrine cells to cannabinoid modulation of intestinal barrier permeability function (with John Worthington). Ethical considerations of human organoid donation and research (with Laura Machin and John Appleby). Impact of cannabinoids on free living ciliates (with Jackie Parry). Students can also apply for MSc by research for the last three projects.