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PhD Studentship in the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular & Metabolic Medicine (LICAMM)

University of Leeds - Faculty of Medicine and Health

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Leeds
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £19,919 annual stipend
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 11th September 2019
Closes: 20th September 2019

Regulation of Human Cardiac Fibroblast Function by Specific microRNAs

Supervisors: Dr Neil Turner & Dr Karen Forbes

Funding: British Heart Foundation Non-Clinical PhD Studentship

The PhD studentship is available for UK and EU applicants only. The studentship will attract an annual tax-free stipend starting at £19,919 in year one, and will be reviewed and renewed annually subject to satisfactory academic progression. Academic fees will also be provided at the UK/EU rate.


You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper second class honours degree in a relevant subject area, for example biological sciences, biomedical sciences or biochemistry.

Applicants should not already have been awarded a doctoral degree. 

The minimum requirements for candidates whose first language is not English are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 7.0 overall, with no element less than 6.5
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 100 with the listening and reading element no less than 22, writing element no less than 23 and the speaking element no less than 24.

Research Project:

Heart tissue comprises several different cell types with the majority being either muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) or cells that produce the structural scaffold of the heart (cardiac fibroblasts). Although once viewed as relatively passive players that solely regulate extracellular matrix remodelling, cardiac fibroblasts are now acknowledged as being primary nodal regulators of multiple aspects of cardiac function under both physiological and pathophysiological conditions. For example, cardiac fibroblasts are essential drivers of the fibrosis and hypertrophy that characterise adverse cardiac remodelling associated with heart failure progression. Like all cells, cardiac fibroblasts express a class of recently discovered regulatory molecules called “microRNAs” (miRNAs). Recent studies by our group have identified several miRNAs expressed by cardiac fibroblasts whose levels are altered under conditions of cardiac dysfunction and remodelling. This study will use human cardiac fibroblasts cultured from different patients to investigate the role and regulation of these miRNAs. Specifically, the project will: (1) explore the effects of these miRNAs on multiple aspects of cardiac fibroblast function relevant to the cardiac remodelling process; (2) evaluate the influence of type 2 diabetes on miRNA expression and cardiac fibroblast function; (3) determine the stimuli, signalling pathways and regulatory mechanisms that control expression of these miRNAs; and (4) identify the target genes responsible for modulation of fibroblast function. We hope to reveal potential therapeutic targets for reducing adverse myocardial remodelling and heart failure progression in man.

This project will combine the supervisors’ long-standing expertise in cardiac fibroblast signalling and miRNAs to explore the role of specific miRNAs in regulating cardiac fibroblast function. You will receive hands-on training by the supervisors and lab members.

How to apply:

To apply for this scholarship applicants should complete a Faculty Scholarship Application form and send this alongside a full academic CV, degree transcripts degree certificates to the Faculty Graduate School

We also require 2 academic references to support your application. Please ask your referees to send these references on your behalf, directly to by no later than Friday 20 September 2019.

Any queries regarding the application process should be directed to 

Closing date for this studentship is Friday 20 September 2019.

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