This is a four-year studentship funded by Astra Zeneca and will be in collaboration with the Cambridge EPSCR Centre for Doctorial Training in Sensor Technologies for a Sustainable Future. It is an interdisciplinary and research focused training programme which introduces our students to the breadth of sensor technologies and applications while providing depth in key topics. The programme ranges from the physical concepts of sensing via the interpretation and management of sensory data to modern developments in sensor applications.
The programme is structured as a one year Master of Research (MRes) course followed by a three year PhD research project. Throughout the course students are part of a student cohort which offers extensive peer-to-peer learning opportunities and exposure to cutting-edge R&D in academia and industry. In addition to developing their technical and scientific knowledge our students receive continuous training in research, team and leadership skills. Entry is competitive and we are looking for students who are curious and passionate team players who are keen to work towards a more healthy and sustainable future.
The PhD project will be on the following: modified mRNA therapeutics have seen a rapid expansion of use due to the Covid-19 pandemic and are now an established therapeutic modality (over 750 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have been administered as of April 2022). While the use of modified mRNAs has rapidly expanded and analytical tools can effectively characterise the modRNA before treatment, the modality is still in its infancy and often there is a poor correlation between product quality and in vivo efficiency. Currently, little is known regarding the therapeutic protein that is expressed upon translation and how the protein output is controlled by the delivered mRNA. Differences in the protein yield and post-translational modifications arise, potentially affecting the cell's quality control machinery as well as the clearance rates and half-life of the therapeutic protein. Furthermore, each therapeutic protein is likely to be subject to endogenous regulation and may differ across cell and tissue types.
This project aims to explore how the mRNA sequence and structure can be manipulated to enhance the stability and activity of the protein product. Using model proteins, cellular and biophysical assays of their structure, activity and function, and methods from RNA characterisation, we will determine a set of design principles to customise the sequence and structure of mRNA medicines by exploring the relationship between these properties and the protein product. We will dissect the requirements for optimal in-cell mRNA stability, ribosome load, rate and timescale of protein expression, protein folding and protein homeostasis, with the broader aim of understanding how to develop the most effective mRNA therapeutics.
You will need to have obtained a first, or upper second class, honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant undergraduate course.
More information is available here: https: // cdt.sensors.cam.ac.uk
Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 4 years and are at home fees level only.
We particularly welcome applications from women and /or candidates from a BME background for this post as they are currently under-represented at this level in our department.
Closing date for applications is 12th February 2023.
Interviews will be held soon after the closing date.
If you have any queries regarding the studentship, please contact Adriana Wolf, Sensor Administrator, at [email protected]
Please quote reference NQ35166 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.Department/Location
Department of Chemical Engineering and BiotechnologyReference
26 January 2023Closing date
12 February 2023