Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship available on investigating structural and physical mechanisms of molecular and ionic transport across membranes. The project has two potential focuses: (i) Nuclear pore complexes and (ii) medically relevant membrane proteins. They will be investigated by atomic force microscopy (AFM) on, respectively, nuclear envelopes and purified plasma membranes of Xenopus oocytes (frog eggs). AFM is a unique experimental tool to image and probe functional biological complexes at (sub)nanometre resolution in near-physiological environment.
The nuclear pore complexes are the only communication channels between cell nucleus and the cytoplasm. These are 100nm-large gates/pores with an interior consisting of disordered polymers. We use AFM to image nuclear pore complexes and probe the nanomechanical properties of their interior, to deduce how these polymers contribute to the selective transport across the nuclear envelope.
Channel proteins in membranes make for much smaller pores (typically some nm diameter). In collaboration with the Università degli Studi of Milan, we are currently working on the expression, identification and AFM-imaging of biomedically relevant channel proteins in Xenopus oocyte plasma membranes. We are particularly interested in visualising and studying the opening/closing mechanism of the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane conductance Regulator, a protein that is defective in cystic fibrosis patients.
We form a highly interdisciplinary research group at the London Centre for Nanotechnology, with high-resolution AFM imaging as a particular strength. To work on the projects above, we are looking for applicants with the following profile:
- A good honours degree (either first class or upper second class) or an MSc in a relevant discipline of life sciences or physical sciences (e.g., molecular or cell biology, biophysics).
- Demonstrated scientific excellence and experimental dexterity.
- Experience in biophysical methods, molecular biology and biochemistry is desired.
- Overseas (non UK/EU) students are not eligible for funding via this studentship.
Applications, comprising a full CV, two references, and a supporting letter should be sent by e-mail to Bart Hoogenboom (email@example.com). A completed application form (downloadable fromhttp://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate-study/application-admission/downloadable-applications) would be helpful as well.
For more information, see: http://www.london-nano.com/content/contactlcn/lcndirectory/hoogenboombart or contact Dr. Bart Hoogenboom (firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 0207 679 0606).