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Development of Patient iPSC Derived Corneal Cell Models of Corneal Dystrophies

University College London

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: London
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £19,500 per annum stipend, and covers UK/EU PhD tuition fees
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 6th August 2018
Closes: 4th September 2018

Project Description

Corneal dystrophies are a group of clinically and genetically heterogeneous disorders affecting the structure and/or function of the cornea. Patients often require a corneal transplant, however there is a global shortage of donor tissue and a risk of graft rejection and recurrence of disease. We will develop patient iPSC derived corneal cell models with mutations in genomic and cellular context to model disease and test therapies. Patient derived cell models will enable us to study mechanisms of disease, and explore the potential of antisense oligonucleotide allele specific gene silencing to suppress dominant mutations. This studentship will utilise a broad range of interdisciplinary cutting edge techniques from genomics and molecular biology to stem cell biology.


UCL Institute of Ophthalmology (IoO) provides an excellent environment for research, with exceptionally well equipped inter-disciplinary laboratories and core facilities. IoO is co–located with its partner Moorfields Eye Hospital, ensuring day to day contact with clinical colleagues. IoO sits with the Faculty of Brian Sciences and is part of UCL SLMS, which is the UK’s main research powerhouse in biomedicine and life sciences.

Prof Alison Hardcastle’s research group share a well-equipped laboratory with the research groups of Prof Cheetham, Dr Van der Spuy and Dr Davidson. This multidisciplinary team of over 28 researchers (research assistants, PhD students and postdocs) has a wealth of appropriate and complimentary expertise that will offer further support for the research outlined in this studentship, from genetics to functional investigations of eye disease proteins to stem cell differentiation. The host lab therefore offers a unique and vibrant environment in which to pursue research.

Ideal person specification

  • A good degree (2.1 or above; or equivalent EU/overseas degree) in a biology/biomedical subject area, and ideally an MSc in a related area  
  • Interested in genetics, cell biology and eye diseases
  • Excellent experimental skills, preferably in molecular biology and cell biology  
  • Good analytical/mathematical skills, preferably with some knowledge of bioinformatics and statistics
  • Good communication skills - especially in written English
  • Ability to manage research time effectively and efficiently
  • Strong work ethic, with the ability to think creatively and work within a team

Duties and Responsibilities

  • In vitro cell culture, immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy
  • DNA, RNA and protein work
  • Bioinformatics
  • Work in collaboration with other researchers
  • Prepare presentations, including text and images, for delivery by self and others.  
  • Travel for collaboration and other meetings or conferences. 
  • Prepare regular reports manuscripts for submission to peer-reviewed journals.  
  • Contribute to the overall activities of the research team and general lab duties.

Informal enquiries

Please email Professor Alison Hardcastle,

Application procedures

Application is by CV and covering letter (including motivation for applying) emailed to

Joanne English, email:

Closing Date: 4 September 2018

Funding Notes

This 3 year PhD studentship is funded by Moorfields Eye Charity with a starting stipend of £19,500 per annum, and covers UK/EU PhD tuition fees.

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