ICB CDT Studentships
Applicants must hold, or expect to obtain, a first-class or upper second-class degree in the physical sciences, or will have obtained more than 50% of their course credits from physical sciences modules, from a recognised academic institution.
These studentships are restricted to "UK students". Non-UK and non-EU students are welcome to apply if they are able to self-fund the four-year programme.
- UK students are defined as having the settled status in the UK (no restrictions on how long they can stay), and having been ordinarily resident in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship, as well as, for non-EU nationals, not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education
- Exception: we do have a small studentship proportion for EU nationals that have not been ordinarily residing in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship, however, these are extremely competitive and once filled, you may be turned down based on your fee status (EU fee status)
Currently Available Studentships at the ICB CDT
6 | Predictive modeling of ICAM-1 repression by Erg; Designing therapeutic Erg mimetics using computational modelling
This 4 year fully funded studentship is part of the Institute of Chemical Biology Centre for Doctoral Training and co-funded by the British Heart Foundation Centre for Research Excellence.
Studentship 6 | Predictive modeling of ICAM-1 repression by Erg; Designing therapeutic Erg mimetics using computational modelling
Endothelial cells (EC) lining blood vessels play an important role in health and disease by regulating key vascular functions, including permeability, hemostasis/thrombosis, inflammation and angiogenesis. The ETS transcription factor, Erg, is highly expressed in endothelial cells, and functions as a ‘master-regulator’ of endothelial homeostasis. Erg acts as both an activator and repressor of homeostatic and pro‐inflammatory genes, respectively. In healthy endothelium, Erg represses expression of pro-inflammatory genes. A unique mechanism has been identified whereby Erg represses ICAM-1 activation by preventing the transcription factor NFκB-p65 binding to the ICAM-1 promoter. Notably, Erg’s expression is lost in activated endothelium over human coronary atherosclerotic plaques. Thus Erg represents a promising target to restore endothelial homeostasis and prevent vascular disease. The complexity of transcription factor signaling has meant they are traditionally considered too difficult to target therapeutically. Preliminary studies using state-of-the-art molecular dynamics simulations have been performed in our group to generate a model of Erg protein structure. In this project, we aim to take these studies forward and model molecular interactions to validate binding motifs within the promoter of ICAM-1 for Erg and NF-κB-p65. Furthermore, Erg isoforms and a putative Erg inhibitor, YK-4-279, will be used in silico, and in cellular in vitro models to validate our findings. This multi-disciplinary project aims to unveil the molecular interactions between Erg, NFκB-p65 and the ICAM-1 promoter to identify key structural and conformational determinants, providing us with the tools to design selective Erg compounds.
Dr Ian Gould | Prof Anna Randi
10 | Next generation polyfunctional probes for chemical biology
This 4 year fully funded Industrial CASE PhD studentship is part of the Institute of Chemical Biology Centre for Doctoral Training and co-funded by GlaxoSmithKline.
Studentship 10 | Next generation polyfunctional probes for chemical biology
This 4-year Industrial CASE PhD studentship is funded by GlaxoSmithKline and EPSRC, and is open to all residents of the EU/EEA and Switzerland. The project would ideally suit an outstanding Masters level chemist, medicinal chemist or chemical biologist, with research experience in synthetic chemistry and/or chemical biology, and a strong interest in developing and applying chemical probes for biological systems.
Recent innovations in chemical probe design and synthesis offer radically new paradigms to control protein function in space and time, extending far beyond the traditional model of ‘one drug one protein’ inhibitors. Discoveries in protein homeostasis and bioconjugation chemistry have led to probes which can directly modify proteins in living systems, alter protein stability or localisation, and modulate drug targets without the requirement for biochemical inhibition.
As the student on this project, you will be at the centre of a collaboration between scientists at Imperial, GSK and Cellzome, interacting with internationally leading groups in the field of chemical probes and protein modification. You will design, synthesise and apply new polyfunctional probes with the capacity to modulate drug targets with exquisite spatiotemporal precision, exploiting photoactivated switching and conjugation, in-cell probe assembly, and multivalent ligands which can ‘rewire’ protein complexes to generate novel functions from pre-existing cellular components.
You will receive training in all relevant aspects of chemical synthesis, protein chemistry, cell biology, proteomics, etc., through the combined expertise of Imperial and GSK. You will also benefit from membership of the Imperial Institute of Chemical Biology Centre for Doctoral Training, and opportunities to collaborate with scientists working at the Francis Crick Institute, through the GSK and Tate group satellite labs based at the Crick.
Prof Ed Tate (Chemical Biology) | Dr Mark Rackham (GSK) | Dr Marcel Muelbaier (Cellzome/GSK)
11 | Unlocking the KLK activome in drug-resistant cancer: imaging, biomarkers and target validation using novel activity probes
This 4 year fully funded Cancer Research UK studentship is part of the Institute of Chemical Biology Centre for Doctoral Training.
Studentship 11 | Unlocking the KLK activome in drug-resistant cancer: imaging, biomarkers and target validation using novel activity probes
This 4-year PhD studentship is funded by Cancer Research UK, and is open to all residents of the EU/EEA and Switzerland; it offers an enhanced tax-free stipend of £21000 pa, plus support for conference travel. The project would ideally suit an outstanding Masters level chemist, medicinal chemist or chemical biologist, with some research experience in synthetic chemistry and/or chemical biology, and a strong interest in developing and applying novel chemical tools in the context of cancer diagnostics and therapeutics.
Kallikrein-related peptidases (KLKs) are a family of 15 secreted serine proteases which form a network – the KLK activome – with a versatile and crucial role in extracellular proteolysis and signalling. Whilst KLK3 (prostate specific antigen, PSA) is used as a prognostic, diagnostic and monitoring biomarker for prostate cancer, many other KLKs are also deregulated in prostate (KLK2, 4, 5, 7, 11 and 12) and ovarian (KLK4, 6 and 10), as well as in gastric and breast cancers.
The KLK activome offers an exciting opportunity for biomarker discovery, imaging and therapeutic intervention. However, the catalytic activity of the KLKs is controlled by intricate post-transcriptional and post-translational regulation, preventing an effective understanding of the dynamics of physiological KLK activity in cells or in vivo. A new approach to understand KLK network activity in a living system is needed to unlock the full potential of KLKs as targets in cancer, and we have recently developed a new class of chemical activity-based probes (ABPs) with the unique capacity to detect and quantify the activity of specific KLKs in a physiological setting. The chemical tools offer for the first time the potential to directly profile the KLK activome in a living cell, in complex 3D cancer models, or in a whole organism.
As the student on this project you will be at the centre of a multidisciplinary collaboration to develop a versatile chemical probe platform for the KLK activome in prostate and ovarian cancers. You will design, synthesise and test optimised probes for specific KLKs through a combination of solution and solid phase chemistries, and advanced high-throughput screens. You will apply these chemical proteomic tools to understand KLK dynamics, identify KLK activity biomarkers, image KLK activities in cells and in preclinical animal models, and drive validation of potential drug targets.
You will receive training in all relevant aspects of chemical synthesis, protein biochemistry, cell biology, proteomics, cancer biology, imaging and in vivo models. You will also benefit from membership of the Imperial College CRUK Centre, and the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre at Hammersmith Hospital involved in coordinating international clinical trials consortia of upwards of 40 trial centres, and the NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre.
Prof Ed Tate (Chemical Biology) | Prof Eric Aboagye (Cancer Imaging) | Prof Charlotte Bevan (Prostate Cancer) | Prof Hani Gabra (Ovarian Cancer)
How to apply
You may want to first explore the 'Guidance on how to apply' section, which explains the process of applying to Imperial College. Thereafter, please apply for these studentships via the 'apply online now' button which will take you to the official Imperial College application site.
Select the F1ICB programme in the Postgraduate Programme Search - Chemical Biology: Multi-Disciplinary Physical Scientists (1plus3) (MRes 1YFT + PhD 3YFT)|F1ICB|1|SK|FT|CN)
Please clearly indicate in the Supporting Document section and Personal Statement, which studentship (or several) you are applying to.