PhD Studentship: The Transcription Factor Landscape of Splicing Factors in Cellular Senescence (BBSRC Funded)

University of Exeter - Medical School

The South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio DTP) is a BBSRC-funded PhD training programme in the biosciences, delivered by a consortium comprising the Universities of Bristol (lead), Bath, Cardiff, Exeter, and Rothamsted Research. Together, these institutions present a distinctive cadre of bioscience research staff and students with established international, national and regional networks and widely recognised research excellence. The partnership has a strong track record in advancing knowledge through high quality research and teaching in partnership with industry and government.

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio DTP).  Up to 4 fully-funded studentships are being offered to start in September 2018 at the University of Exeter.

Academic Supervisors:

Main supervisor: Prof Lorna Harris
Co-supervisor: Prof Mark Lindsay
Co-supervisor: Dr Chris Scotton
Collaborator: Dr Ryan Ames
Collaborator: Dr Alison Tyson Capper

Project Description:

Genes make proteins by producing messages containing the instructions to build them. Most genes can make several types of message depending on which proteins are needed to respond to challenges such as infection, heat stress, chemicals or cold. As we age, our cells become less able to regulate which types of message are made, which contributes to the ageing process because our genes are not switched on or off as they should be. The decision as to which form of message is produced is made by a class of genes called splicing factors.

By restoring levels of splicing factors to levels similar to those seen in younger cells, we have been able to reset the correct production of messages to a situation closer to that seen in younger cells and to reverse some of the effects of ageing in cells grown in the test tube. In this project, we aim to use a variety of molecular, cellular and computational techniques to identify how splicing factors are themselves regulated, what the consequences of changes in the levels of their regulators are for ageing cells and importantly, whether changes to any of this regulatory machinery is able to ‘turn the clock back’ and restore function to old cells. These studies will inform us on the fundamental changes that happen in ageing cells and by extension ageing people, and may form the front line of an entirely new approach to ensure good health and quality of life for our ageing population in the future.

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South West England