PhD Studentship: Stem Cells & Genetic Engineering

Keele University - Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine

Reprogramming of human induced pluripotent stem cells and their directed differentiation into cardiovascular lineages using CRISPR-based optogenetics.

Supervisor: Dr. Vinoj George
Co-supervisors: Professor Ying Yang & Professor Nick Forsyth
Location: GHRC, Institute of Science & Technology in Medicine [ISTM], Keele University – ST4 7QB.

Applications are invited for a 3 year PhD studentship, starting from October 2017 to work on the above project in ISTM, Keele University. This studentship is suitable for UK and EU students as funding covers fees at the UK/EU rate and a maintenance stipend [£14,553 pa], which will rise in line with minimum Research Council rates.

Project: CRISPR-associated catalytically inactive dCas9 fused to an effector domain [dCas9-E] have developed recently as a powerful tool to modulate endogenous gene transcription and to interrogate mechanisms within cells. The project will capitalise on our optogenetically-engineered version of this CRISPR coupled with our custom-designed high throughput optogenetic platform to mechanistically improve reprogramming of human blood cells to iPSCs and their directed differentiation to mature cardiovascular lineages in tissue-engineered 3D models/bioreactors.

The project will be multidisciplinary and will aim to tap additional expertise from collaborators in the Universities of Cambridge and Glasgow. This will complement research skills through training in stem cell culture, cardiomyocyte differentiation, molecular and cell biology assays, genetics, electrophysiology, tissue engineering and advanced cellular imaging. This will be an exciting opportunity for the student to combine genetic engineering with tissue engineering to control stem cell fate and to produce better innovative models of cardiovascular disease for translational applications.

Requirements: The candidate should have some basic understanding and experience in molecular biology, cell culture and genetics. Interest in stem cell biology/cardiovascular research is desirable. Student would typically have a 1st or 2:1 degree in biological or medical sciences or similar subject area, preferably with some relevant research experience through a Master’s degree. With adequate training, the successful candidate will be expected to work independently and be responsible for attending relevant training modules. Informal enquiries are welcome and please direct them to Vinoj George at

Research Institute: The successful candidate will enjoy access to high-level facilities and instrumentation available at ISTM, which specialises in translational research. Approximately 90% of ISTM's research was rated as world leading or internationally excellent in the most recent Research Excellence Framework assessment [REF2014]. Further information can be found at

Closing date of application: 21st August 2017, 5pm

Interviews: Month of September

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