Round 3 Projects

Applications for the NRPDTP projects third recruitment round for an October 2024 entry, opened on 28th June and will close at 11.59 pm on 22nd July 2024. For information on eligibility and how to apply please follow the 'How to Apply' dropdown menu

  • Membrane protein-metabolite interactions important in mitochondrial energy metabolism for burning fat as heat. (CRICHTON_U24DTP)

    Mitochondria in our cells harness energy through the breakdown of nutrients to produce ATP through oxidative phosphorylation. However, in specialised brown adipose tissue, popularised as ‘good fat’, the conventional process is ‘short circuited’ by a mitochondrial membrane protein, UCP1, which allows the tissue to burn off calories as heat. When engaged, the protein helps mammals fight cold temperatures and can contribute to calorie expenditure in humans to maintain metabolic health.

  • Ticking clocks, thriving crops: Developing climate-resilient crops through circadian biology (DODD_J24DTP)

    Climate change poses a significant threat to our food supply, but you can be part of the solution! In this groundbreaking research project, we're investigating how plants adapt to changing seasons and temperatures, with a focus on ensuring robust crop production despite environmental challenges. You’ll explore the fascinating world of circadian rhythms and their role in shaping the life cycle of winter-grown crops. Using Arabidopsis plants as a model,

  • Controlling greenhouse gas emissions by targeting bacterial G-quadruplex DNA/RNA structures (GATES_U24DTP)

    As well as carbon dioxide (CO2), other important climate-active gases are known to drive global warming. Importantly, nitrous oxide (N2O), is the third most abundant greenhouse gas with 300-times greater global warming power than CO2 and it also contributes to the destruction of the ozone layer. Production of N2O is a by-product of modern farming, where after applying fertilizers, soil-based bacteria consume nitrate and generate N2O that is emitted from soil to the atmosphere.

  • ThAnoS: thiopeptide antibiotics biosynthesis (GHILAROV_J24DTP)

    Background: Natural products forming the basis of our current medical arsenal are often difficult to synthesize, purify, or engineer. In recent years ribosomally-synthesized post-translationally modified peptides attracted attention as a flexible drug discovery platform. RiPPs are genetically encoded, made by the ribosome, and converted into bioactive molecules by multi-protein complexes combining different enzymatic activities. Harnessing these complexes’ ability to modify custom peptides will be of huge advantage to biotechnology as it will allow synthesis of engineered molecules with programmed sequence.

  • Building the vertebrate spine: the neck to thorax transition. (MUNSTERBERG_U24DTP1)

    Segmentation of the main body axis is a fundamental and conserved feature of all vertebrate embryos. It results in the metameric organization of the vertebral column and its associated muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. The vertebral column is produced by somites, transient aggregates of cells generated by unsegmented paraxial mesoderm (PSM) on each side of the neural tube. We have previously determined how gene expression is dynamically controlled along the anterior-posterior axis of developing chick embryos to generate the different sections of the spine

  • Epigenetic profiling of cereal fungal invaders. (SAUNDERS_J24DTP1)

    Wheat blast and rusts are fungal diseases that severely damage cereal production worldwide. During infection, these fungi secrete proteins into wheat plants to reprogramme host plant circuitry, supporting their own growth and development. A subset of effectors, termed avirulence factors (Avr), can be recognised by corresponding host resistance (R) proteins, rendering the pathogen avirulent and halting its growth. However, host recognition creates strong evolutionary pressure on pathogen Avr effectors, favouring their modification to evade immune responses.

  • Dietary adaptation of Bifidobacterium in the weaning infant gut. (WARRENF_Q24DTP)

    The infant gut is a complex, constantly adapting ecosystem which shows distinct shifts as a consequence of introducing solid foods, which can have lifelong health impacts. An important nutrient in weaning foods is starch, a key dietary component in the adult diet. The genus Bifidobacterium has several adaptations making it a key starch degrader during the dietary transition of weaning, but the molecular mechanisms are not well understood. This project, using data and microbial isolates from a large cohort study of infants,

  • Developing improved diagnostic tests for vitamin B12 (WARREN_Q24CASE)

    This PhD opportunity is ideal for graduates in biochemistry or biomedical science with a keen interest in protein science and its application in developing new diagnostic tests and assays. Recently, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued comprehensive guidelines on diagnosing and treating vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12, crucial for red blood cell and nerve formation, is mainly sourced from animal and dairy products, making plant-based diets deficient in this nutrient.

  • Sustainable protein production for therapeutic and biotechnological applications (WILKINSON_J24CASE)

    Streptomyces spp. are characterised by a complex secondary metabolism which is the basis of many agrichemicals and clinical pharmaceuticals including almost half of all antibiotics. They also offer an alternative to E. coli and yeast to develop a new protein and peptide production platform with industrial application, especially to produce otherwise difficult to manufacture proteins and peptides with therapeutic, agrichemical and biotechnological applications. This will be the focus of the project. The successful candidate will have access to cutting-edge research facilities within the John Innes Centre as well as a stimulating interdisciplinary research and training environment, and they will gain an excellent foundation in biochemistry, protein production, molecular microbiology, synthetic biology, chemical biology and enzymology. They will also work closely with the team at a leading UK biotechnology company with whom they will interact extensively. As such the project offers an opportunity to learn a plethora of techniques and research approaches, and the combination of skills and experience provided by this studentship will make the successful candidate highly employable in both academia and industry.