We are currently advertising DTP and CASE studentships for October 2019 start. The deadline for applications is the 26th November 2018.

26 / 09 / 2018

Revealing RNA’s Secret Structures (WALLER_U19DTP1)

how to apply

The diversity of DNA and RNA structures is wide and varied, from hairpins and bulges through to triplexes and quadruplexes. These structures are able to control numerous biological functions from sensing of messenger compounds to dictating whether genes are switched on or off. This project will focus in particular on G-quadruplexes, four-stranded RNA structures which are formed from sequences which contain a lot of the base guanine (1). This project will aim to reveal some of the RNA-based mechanisms which alter gene regulation. This has wide applications from understanding the development of genetic diseases (including cancer and diabetes) to how plants response to environmental stress (for example during periods of drought).


This PhD project will involve using biophysical and molecular biology techniques to determine the type of structures which the RNA is able to fold into, how they change in response to the environment and what happens to the biology when they form. The project will be highly interdisciplinary and will involve training in a wide range of techniques, from biophysical and physiological characterisation to in vivo testing. Led by Dr Zoë Waller at UEA and Dr Yiliang Ding at the John Innes Centre, the successful applicant will enjoy the benefits of working in both a University environment and research institute.


The student will have, or expect to obtain a first class, 2(i) or equivalent Honours degree in Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Pharmacy or a related area.


Informal enquiries are welcomed, please contact Dr Zoë Waller ( or Dr Yiliang Ding (



(1) Bochman, M. L. et al. DNA secondary structures: stability and function of G-quadruplex structures (2012), Nature Reviews Genetics, 13, 770.