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Masters Opportunities

Anatomy and function of the mosquito olfactory system

Supervisor: Dr Olena Riabinina (olena.riabinina@durham.ac.uk, http://insectneurolab.com/

Deadline: Applications accepted all year round

Funding: Self-funded students only

Project description:

Malaria mosquito is one of the deadliest animals on Earth, causing more than 400,000 death per year and affecting half of the world population. Our fight against malaria has currently stalled, due to the emerging insecticide resistance and changing climate. New methods of malaria and mosquito control, based on better understanding of mosquito biology, are urgently needed.

This project will apply cutting-edge genetic tools to study the sense of smell of malaria mosquitoes Anopheles gambiae. You will investigate, based on your research preferences, cellular and/or behavioural responses to odorants of larval and adult mosquitoes with genetically modified olfactory neurons. You will also investigate the anatomy of olfactory innervations of the mosquito brain.

Research skills that will be taught and used for this project include: mosquito rearing, behavioural assays, genetic crosses of mosquitoes, live calcium imaging, brain dissection, immunostaining and confocal imaging, gene knock-down with RNAi.

Required from you are: interest and research experience in neuroscience, enthusiasm and ability to develop the project and drive it forward.

Funding Notes:

Applicants must have the ability to SELF FUND in full the costs to cover tuition fees, bench fees, and living stipend for a minimum of 1 year (full time). Success will depend on the quality of applications received, funding, and meeting the minimum criteria required in terms of language and academic qualifications. If you are interested in applying, please contact Dr Olena Riabinina with a CV, contact details of at least two referees, evidence of English language ability, evidence of qualifications and a detailed covering explaining your interest in this project research project and your future career plans.

Engineering human tissues in vitro: development, characterisation, and application

Supervisor: Prof Stefan Przyborski (stefan.przyborski@durham.ac.uk

Deadline: Applications accepted all year round

Funding: Self funded students only

Project Description:

Tissues in the human body have a defined structure in that their growth and differentiation have developed in specific ways to create a cellular architecture that supports their function.  Following this fundamental principle that ‘from structure comes function’ we can develop in vitro models that resemble elements of the anatomy and physiology of real human tissues.  This can be achieved through our understanding of tissue development and morphology, and the application of innovative technologies to build mature, functional tissue equivalents.  Such innovation often occurs at the interface between disciplines such as biological, chemistry, and engineering.

In my laboratory, we specialise in the development of novel approaches to culturing cells in vitro, to enhance cell viability, growth, and differentiation, to enable the creation of human tissue mimetics that can subsequently be used for basic research, drug screening, and the assessment of chemicals.  In this project, we will focus on the construction of human epithelial tissues and their functional properties.  There are many examples of different epithelia in the body (for example, skin, oral mucosa, intestine, etc.).  They share certain structural features that are common to each that we will attempt to recreate in vitro.  Cells from primary sources, cell lines, and stem cell derivatives, will be used to construct in vitro co-culture models of epithelia and their underlying stromal tissues.  The anatomy and physiology of these constructs will be assessed alongside real tissues using a variety of modern cellular and molecular methods.  As part of the project, we are also interested in developing new cell technologies to further improve the culture and differentiation of human tissues in vitro.  We therefore also invite applicants who are interested in working at the interface between biology and the physical sciences.  For further information about our research please visit my research staff profile https://www.dur.ac.uk/biosciences/about/schoolstaff/profile/?id=1016

Successful applicants will join a busy and productive research group.  The project will  provide excellent training in the development of non-animal in vitro technologies, cell biology, tissue specific anatomy/physiology, engineering human tissues, stem cell science and cell differentiation, and advanced cell technologies.  The student will master a range of cutting edge techniques to advance their research programme, including advanced 3D cell culture, cell and molecular biology, tissue analysis, histology, cell-based assays, and imaging (advanced light and electron microscopy).  The student will train to become a research scientist, develop ownership of their project, and become expert in their field of interest.  The Department of Biosciences at Durham University has excellent research facilities and training support programme to prepare the student for a successful career in scientific research.

Molecular Cell Signalling

Supervisor: Dr Martin Schroeder (martin.schroeder@durham.ac.uk)

Deadline: Applications accepted all year round

Funding: Self-funded students only

A Masters’ studentship is available in the group of Dr. Martin Schröder in the Department of Biosciences at Durham University to study stress signalling mechanisms originating from the endoplasmic reticulum.

Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress contributes to the development and progression of many diverse diseases affecting secretory tissues, such as diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. The successful candidate will employ modern genetic and molecular techniques to understand the underlying cell biological mechanisms in endoplasmic reticulum stress signaling that maintain the homeostasis of the endoplasmic reticulum.

Specifically, the student will use genetic approaches to develop fluorescently-traceable and functional versions of the ER stress sensor Ire1 in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. To achieve these aims you will employ a range of molecular biology and biochemical techniques such as site-directed mutagenesis, transformation of yeast and screening of yeast transformants for desired phenotypes, as well as analysis of the activity, abundance, and localization of Ire1 with reporter assays, Northern, and Western blots, and fluorescence microscopy.

To apply, send a CV including the names of two references and a one page personal statement describing clearly your background, interest and experience in scientific research to martin.schroeder@durham.ac.uk. In your cover letter you should clearly identify the funding source to cover living expenses, tuition fees and bench fees. Further information can be found at https://www.dur.ac.uk/study/pg/ or by contacting Dr. Martin Schröder.

M. C. Armstrong, S. Šestak, A. A. Ali, H. A. M. Sagini, M. Brown, K. Baty, A. Treumann, M. Schröder, Mol. Cell. Biol. 37 (2017) e00655-16: Bypass of activation loop phosphorylation by aspartate 836 in activation of the endoribonuclease activity of Ire1.