PhD Studentship: Identification of Novel Enhancers Specific to Neural Crest (WHEELER_U18DTP1)

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Start Date: 1st October 2018

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Dr Grant Wheeler

Project description: Neural Crest cells (NC) are a multipotent population of cells found only in vertebrates, specifically in the embryo. They originate at the border of the ectoderm and neuroectoderm where they undergo an epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and then migrate to various parts of the embryo where they differentiate into important issues such as parts of the heart, the peripheral nervous system, the cartilage of the face and pigment cells. They are therefore of importance for normal development and errors in their development are the cause of many birth defects.

Understanding the regulatory elements required for NC specification is important in order to understand how NC are first specified and then induced during development. Understanding these processes will help in developing techniques to engineer specific cells and tissues that the NC give rise to and which could be used in stem cell and regenerative therapies. We have previously shown c-Myc to play a crucial role in NC development (Hatch et al. 2016). We have now carried out ATAC-seq on Xenopus embryonic tissue induced to form NC to determine the active enhancers and promoters. In this project the student will focus on analysing and validating the ATAC-seq data we have generated. In particular they will concentrate on the role of c-Myc in regulating NC development by analysing its role as a transcription factor binding to specific active regions. This project is supported by pilot data and the student will benefit from established methods and expertise.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 9th, 10th or 11th January 2018.

The Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Person specification: Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,553pa – 2017/8), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements. Details on eligibility for funding on the BBSRC website:

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