PhD studentship: Molecular mechanisms of piRNA-guided transposon silencing

University of Cambridge
November 14, 2022
Offerd Salary:£19,000
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Negotigation
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PhD studentship: Molecular mechanisms of piRNA-guided transposon silencing

PhD studentship : Molecular mechanisms of piRNA-guided transposon silencing

Department/location : Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute

Deadline for application : 14 November 2022

This is a unique opportunity for PhD study in the world-leading Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (CRUK CI), to start a research career in an environment committed to training outstanding cancer research scientists of the future. The Institute has excellent state-of-the-art facilities and research ranges from basic biology and computational biology through to translational cancer research and clinical application.

Postgraduate students play a pivotal role in the continuing success of our research programmes. If you are interested in contributing to our success, please find further information at: https: // www. studentships/postgraduate-study

Professor Greg Hannon and Dr Benjamin Czech wish to recruit a student to work on the project entitled: Molecular mechanisms of piRNA-guided transposon silencing

For further information about the research group, including their most recent publications, please visit https: // www. group and https:// www.

Project details

There is an opportunity for a talented student to join the interdisciplinary laboratory of Professor Greg Hannon located at the CRUK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge. The Hannon laboratory as a whole has a long-standing interest in RNA biology and cancer research, and a strong history of developing new tools to address cutting-edge questions in these fields.

This studentship is embedded within a team of around ten people focused on RNA and chromatin biology, covering a wide range of areas, including transcription, export, and processing of non-coding RNAs, establishment and dynamics of chromatin marks, and ultimately repression of transposable elements. This project aims to uncover the molecular mechanisms that underlie the PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA) pathway using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model. While a rough framework of the piRNA machinery has been established in recent years, the precise hierarchy of the events that result in faithful transposon silencing is not yet fully understood. In your project you will exploit in vitro cell culture models as well as fly genetics, and carry out various biochemical, proteomic, structural biology, cell biology, genomics (RNA-seq, small RNA-seq, CLIP-seq, CUT&Tag), imaging and computational approaches to study piRNA-guided transposon control. This project is expected to contribute to our understanding of the piRNA pathway and discover fundamental biology with impacts on the RNA silencing and chromatin biology fields.

Preferred skills/knowledge

The ideal candidate would have a strong background in genetics, molecular biology and/or biochemistry, a keen interest in (small) RNA biology, transposons, or chromatin research, and would be highly motivated to drive an independent research project. A reasonable amount (6+ months) of practical research experience is essential, while good familiarity with genomics or Drosophila would be desirable. The successful candidate is expected to work closely with other team members, have excellent communication skills and record keeping habits, organisational and time-management skills, and an inquisitive mind.

Further Reading

  • Czech B, et al. (2018). piRNA-Guided Genome Defense: From Biogenesis to Silencing. Annual Review of Genetics.
  • Munafò M, et al. (2019). Daedalus and Gasz recruit Armitage to mitochondria, bringing piRNA precursors to the biogenesis machinery. Genes & Development.
  • Fabry MH, et al. (2021). Maternally inherited piRNAs direct transient heterochromatin formation at active transposons during early Drosophila embryogenesis. eLife.
  • Eastwood EL, et al. (2021). Dimerisation of the PICTS complex via LC8/Cut-up drives co-transcriptional transposon silencing in Drosophila. eLife.
  • Funding

    This studentship is funded by Cancer Research UK and includes full funding for University and College fees and in addition, a stipend currently of £19,000 per annum, initially for 3 years, with funding for a further year possible as required.


    No nationality restrictions apply to Cancer Research UK funded studentships. Applications are invited from recent graduates or final year undergraduates who hold or expect to gain a first/upper second-class degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject from any recognised university worldwide. Applicants with relevant research experience, gained through Master's study or while working in a laboratory, are strongly encouraged to apply.

    How to apply:

    Please apply using the University Applicant Portal. For further information about the course and to access the applicant portal, go to: https: // www. Please select to commence study in Michaelmas term 2023 (October 2023).

    To complete your online application, you need to provide the following:

    Reference Request: The names and contact details of two academic referees who have agreed to act on your behalf.

    Course Specific Question: Your statement of interest (limit of 2,500 characters) should explain why you wish to be considered for the studentship and which qualities and experience you will bring to the role. Please also state how you learned of the studentship.

    Supporting Document: Please upload your CV (PDF file), which should include a list of the examinations taken at undergraduate level and if possible, your examination results.


    The closing date for applications is 14 November 2022 with interviews expected to take place in the week beginning 16 January 2023.

    Please quote reference SW33418 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.


    Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, Cambridge






    29 September 2022

    Closing date

    14 November 2022

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