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PhD Studentship: Dynamics of mRNA m6A methylome induced by hepatitis B virus X protein and its significance for the pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma

Xi'an Jiaotong - Liverpool University

Supervisor Names:

Principle supervisor: Dr Rong Rong (XJTLU, Department of Biological Sciences)

Co-supervisor: Professor Zhi-Liang Lu (XJTLU, Department of Biological Sciences)

Co-supervisor: Dr Neil Blake (UoL, Institute of Infection and Global Health)

Co-supervisor: Dr Jia Meng (XJTLU, Department of Biological Sciences)

Project Description:

N6-methyaladenosine (m6A) has been identified as the most common internal modification in mRNA in higher eukaryotes. Recent studies suggest that m6A modification plays significant and broad roles in various physiological processes that might be linked to human diseases, such as cancers. However, the mechanisms or pathways that m6A modification is involved in cancer development remain unclear. To investigate whether HBV X protein (HBx) can mediate the changes of the mRNA m6A profile of human hepatocytes during the HBV infection, which may involve in the pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), we propose to check the topology, dynamics and influences of mRNA m6A methylome and its methylation modifiers in the stable HBx-expressing hepatocytes. Successful completion of this study will address for the first time the importance of mRNA methylation in HBx-induced HCC. Furthermore, our study will provide relevant information that can be exploited to develop RNA methylome-based new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of HBV- induced HCC.

For more information about doctoral scholarship and PhD programme at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU): Please visit

Eligibility Criteria:

The candidate should have a first class or upper second class honours degree, or a master’s degree (or equivalent qualification) in Virology, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Immunology or Medicine. Evidence of good spoken and written English is essential. The candidate should have an IELTS score of 6.5 or above (with a minimum of 5.5 in each component), if the first language is not English. This position is open to all qualified candidates irrespective of nationality.


The student will be awarded a PhD degree from the University of Liverpool (UK) upon successful completion of the program. 


The PhD studentship is available for three years subject to satisfactory progress by the student. The award covers tuition fees for three years (currently equivalent to RMB 80,000 per annum) and provides a monthly stipend of 3500 RMB as a contribution to living expenses. It also provides up to RMB 16,500 to allow participation at international conferences during the period of the award. It is a condition of the award that holders of XJTLU PhD scholarships carry out 300-500 hours of teaching assistance work per year. The scholarship holder is expected to carry out the major part of his or her research at XJTLU in Suzhou, China. However, he or she is eligible for a research study visit to the University of Liverpool of up to three months, if this is required by the project. 

How to Apply:

Interested applicants are advised to email the following documents for initial review and assessment (please put the project title in the subject line).

  • CV
  • Two reference letters with company/university letterhead
  • Personal statement outlining your interest in the position
  • Proof of English language proficiency (an IELTS score of 6.5 or above)
  • Verified school transcripts in both Chinese and English (for international students, only the English version is required)
  • Verified certificates of education qualifications in both Chinese and English (for international students, only the English version is required) 
Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Suzhou - China
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: ¥140,000
£15,632.68 converted salary* per annum (Covers tuition fee and stipend).
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 23rd May 2019
Closes: 3rd July 2019
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* Salary has been converted at the prevailing rate on the date placed
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