PhD Studentship: Mitochondrial Toxicity in Drosophila Models of Meurodegenerative Diseases 2018, UK

University of Cambridge


April 30, 2018

Opportunity Cover Image - PhD Studentship: Mitochondrial Toxicity in Drosophila Models of Meurodegenerative Diseases 2018, UK

PhD Studentship: Mitochondrial Toxicity in Drosophila Models of Meurodegenerative Diseases 2018, UK

A 4-year PhD studentship is available from October 2018 under the supervision of Dr L.Miguel Martins with an annual stipend of £15,000 (tax-free)

The Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit is an internationally renowned institution focussed on the delivery of field-changing mechanistic insights into toxicology and disease.

The Unit is part of the University of Cambridge; it is currently located in Leicester and will be relocating to Cambridge in early 2020. Candidates will, therefore, be undertaking the first part of their PhD at the Unit's current premises in Leicester. The Unit is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and provides a supportive learning environment designed to meet the scientific and transferable skills required for an internationally competitive career.

Students will be registered with the University of Cambridge for the duration of the studentship. Successful applicants will enjoy membership of a University of Cambridge College from the commencement of their PhD in October 2018, but will initially have only limited access to College facilities due to the location of the Unit. The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity. The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Project outline

Mitochondria are essential for cellular functions due to their role in energy production, calcium homeostasis, and apoptotic signaling. Specialised cells, such as neurons, are heavily reliant on mitochondria for most of their energetic demands. The maintenance of a pool of healthy mitochondrial in neurons is, therefore, of critical importance. The work focuses on mitochondrial signaling pathways of toxicity associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. They use fruit fly as an animal model to gain in vivo mechanistic insight into mitochondrial toxicity associated with these neurodegenerative diseases. They have recently uncovered that neuronal toxicity in Drosophila models of Parkinson's disease is linked to the activity of PERK, an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-resident kinase. They found that defective mitochondria form direct contacts with the ER in fly brain and this causes neuronal death. The objective of this project is to explore the mechanism through which the activity of PERK is regulated by contacts between mitochondria and the ER using Drosophila as an in vivo model. More information about the research can be found at the lab's website.

Funding Notes

Candidates must expect to obtain qualifications at the level of a first-class or 2.1 Honours Degree in a biological science or related discipline and to fully satisfy the residence requirements of the UK Research Councils.

A fees-only award will be available to EU nationals who are not ordinarily resident in the UK. Students who are liable for fees at the 'overseas' rate are not eligible for these studentships.

To be eligible for a full award (stipend and university fees) a student must have:

  • Settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long they can stay 
  • Been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for three years prior to the start of the studentship. This means they must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences)
  • Not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education (this does not apply to UK or EU nationals)


Apply using the Applicant Portal, where the can create and submit the application and supporting documents, and request references.

An application is only complete when:

  • the applicant has submitted the application and supporting documents via the Applicant Portal
  • the applicant has paid the £50 application fee
  • the applicant's referees have provided their references.

Candidates should also supply a CV and statement of research, highlighting why they are specifically interested in applying for a PhD in the Toxicology Unit. By applying to this course the applicant agrees for the project to share all his/her information with the MRC Toxicology Unit.

Application Fee:
This course is part of a scheme within the Graduate School of Life Sciences which enables three applications to be made with payment of a single £50 application fee. 

Applications must be made via the University's online Applicant Portal.

In case of having any queries regarding the application process please contact Rebecca Heatherley on

Please quote reference PU15034 on the application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

Selection Process

Applicants for admission should supply the name of two referees, including the head of the department or their project supervisor at their place of undergraduate study. Appointment to a studentship will normally follow an interview by the supervisor, and at least one other member of staff (one member of the panel should be female). The interviewers must be satisfied that the candidate is suitably qualified and capable to undertake the proposed research and present a final thesis. The formal offer of admission will be made by the Graduate Admissions Office on the recommendation of the Unit. Candidates may be told informally of the recommendation of the Unit. Until the transfer is formalized (anticipated to be in late February 2018), no formal offers of admission can be made to candidates by the University’s Graduate Admissions Office, but the University strongly encourages interested candidates to apply as soon as possible.

Things the applicant will need

In order to apply for this course, the applicant will need to think about getting a few things ready before applying.

  • Two academic references 
  • Transcript 
  • Evidence of competence in English (if required)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Research proposal

Gates Cambridge Scholarships

If the applicant wishes to be considered for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship he/she will also need to provide the following:

  • Gates Cambridge Reference  
  • CV/resume
  • Research Proposal (PhD applicants only)

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.

Host Country
Study Levels
Publish Date
March 19, 2018
Link To Original