PhD Positions

We are now recruiting for 2 PhD students to start in October 2020.  One student will be based at the Department of Chemistry and one at CRUK Cambridge Institute.  For further information and how to apply, see the adverts below:

PhD Studentship: Chemical Biology of the Genome and the Epigenome -

Department of Chemistry

Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD studentship in the group led by Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramanian, on a multidisciplinary project exploiting both chemistry and biology to explore fundamental mechanisms of genome function (http://www.balasubramanian.co.uk). We seek a creative and enthusiastic PhD student to work on one of our two primary research goals:

(i) An investigation of the structure and function of DNA (and RNA) secondary structures called G-quadruplexes. Studies both in vitro and in cells suggest G-quadruplexes may be important for the control of transcription, translation and other key processes in biology. We employ chemical biology, molecular biophysics, structural biology, cell biology and genomics to explore mechanisms involving G-quadruplexes with an emphasis on intervention strategies for cancer [e.g. see eLife, 2019, 8:e46793; Nature, 2018, 558, 465; Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, 2017, 18, 279; Nature Chemistry, 2017, 9, 1110; Nature Genetics, 2016, 48, 1267; Nature Communications, 2017, 8, 14432].

(ii) An investigation of base modifications in nucleic acids. The DNA alphabet also includes natural chemical modifications to DNA bases that can change the structure, recognition and function of DNA. Our research aims to elucidate these modifications and their effects on the folded structure of DNA, protein-DNA interactions and also the assembly of nucleosomes with the goal of explaining how and why this modulates the function of cells and organisms. Examples will include 5-methylcytosine, a well-known epigenetic feature in addition to more-recently discovered modified bases such as 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, 5-formylcytosine and 5-carboxylcytosine. Our lab employs and develops chemical, physical, biological and genomic approaches to investigate the presence of, and to gain mechanistic insights into modified base function in human, mouse and parasite genomes [e.g. see: Nature Chemistry, 2019, 11, 629; Nature Chemistry, 2018, 10, 1258; Nature Reviews Chemistry, 2017, 1, 0069; Nature Chemical Biology, 2015, 11, 555; Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, 2015, 22, 44; Nature Chemistry, 2014, 6, 1049; Science, 2012, 336, 934].

Applicants must have (or expect to obtain) at least the equivalent of a UK upper second class Master's degree in a chemical or biological discipline that is relevant to the project. Ideally, the candidate will have a strong background in organic chemistry and/or chemical biology. A good knowledge of nucleic acid chemistry and/or molecular biology methods is desirable. Motivation, creativity and intellectual independence are desirable as are excellent communication skills with the ability to work collaboratively.

The studentship commences in October 2020 and provides a maintenance grant and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. Owing to funding restrictions the studentship is not available to non-EU nationals.

To apply for this vacancy, please email a cover letter, CV, detailed academic transcripts and the contact details for at least two academic referees to: Jo Lockhart, PA to Professor Balasubramanian, (email: BalasubramanianRecruitment@ch.cam.ac.uk), including 'PhD - Chemistry - MA20727' in the subject line. Your cover letter should explain why you wish to be considered for the studentship and describe the qualities and experience you will bring to the role. Please also state how you learned of the studentship.

For queries regarding the post, please contact Jo Lockhart at BalasubramanianRecruitment@ch.cam.ac.uk

If you wish to be considered for any other available studentships in the Chemistry Department starting in October 2020, you must also apply online via the University Applicant Portal (further information at http://www.ch.cam.ac.uk/pgapp). Please note that there is an application fee.

Information about research in the Department of Chemistry is given at: http://www.ch.cam.ac.uk

Deadline

The closing date for applications is 15 November 2019, with interviews expected to take place in December/January.

Please quote reference MA20727 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

PhD Studentship - Epigenetic Features of the Genome

CRUK - Cambridge Institute

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (CRUK CI) is a joint venture between the Charity, Cancer Research UK, and the University of Cambridge. The Institute has excellent state-of-the-art facilities and research ranges from basic cancer biology and computational biology through to translational research and clinical application. Graduate students play a pivotal role in the continuing success of our research programmes and gaining a studentship in the Institute is an excellent opportunity to start a research career in an environment committed to training outstanding cancer research scientists of the future. For further information, go to: https://www.cruk.cam.ac.uk/jobs-and-studentships/postgraduate-study

Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramanian, Head of the research group studying the Chemical Biology of Nucleic Acids, wishes to appoint a student to work on the project entitled: Epigenetic Features of the Genome.

Project details:

The lab exploits both chemistry and biology to address fundamental mechanisms of genome function (http://www-balasubramanian.ch.cam.ac.uk). While many genetic determinants of cancer are known, alternative nucleic acid secondary structures and chemically modified DNA (or RNA) bases can be epigenetic features of nucleic acids that are important to normal biology and in oncogenesis. The project will explore chemical modifications as epigenetic features and how these influence secondary structure formation and function in the genome of normal and cancer cells. The scope of the project may include exploring the formation and dynamics of G-quadruplex structures and modified DNA bases in the genome and their roles in gene expression, DNA replication and genome stability. We have developed methods to show that G-quadruplexes are enriched in cancer-related genes and have a profound impact on transcription (e.g. Nature Genetics, 2016, 48, 1267-1272; Nature Biotechnology, 2015, 33, 877-881). We have also developed genome-wide mapping and sequencing of modified bases and are now exploring further base modifications (e.g. Genome Biology, 2017, 18:23; Nature Chemical Biology, 2015, 11, 555-557).

Preferred skills/knowledge

The student will be highly motivated, capable of independent thought and have excellent communication skills with the ability to work collaboratively. Ideally, the candidate will have a strong background in molecular biology and/or biochemistry. Knowledge of the chemistry and biology of nucleic acids would be beneficial.

Funding

This project is funded by a Cancer Research UK studentship that includes full funding for University and College fees and a stipend of £19,000 per annum.

Eligibility

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.

How to apply

To apply for this vacancy, please email a cover letter, CV, detailed academic transcripts and the contact details for at least two academic referees to: Jo Lockhart, PA to Professor Balasubramanian, (email: BalasubramanianRecruitment@ch.cam.ac.uk), including 'PhD - CI SW20730' in the subject line. Your cover letter should explain why you wish to be considered for the studentship and describe the qualities and experience you will bring to the role. Please also state how you learned of the studentship.

For queries regarding the post, please contact Jo Lockhart at BalasubramanianRecruitment@ch.cam.ac.uk

In addition, all applications need to be made using the University Applicant Portal. Please visit: https://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/cvcrpdmsc for further information about the course and to access the applicant portal.

To complete your on-line 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.

Research: If you wish to be considered for more than one studentship, please enter the names of all of the supervisors you wish to consider your application in the 'Research summary' text box. If you only wish your application to be considered by a single supervisor, then please enter their name in the 'Research Supervisor' text box. Please describe your past 'Research experience' in the appropriate text box.

Course Specific Questions: 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 Documents: Please upload your CV (PDF file), which should include a list of the examinations taken at undergraduate level and if possible, your examination results

Deadline

The closing date for applications is 15 November 2019, with interviews expected to take place in December/January.

Please quote reference SW20730 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.