Job Opportunities

Job Opportunities

PhD studentship in Molecular Cell Biology

Centre for Biomedical Sciences Royal Holloway University of London

Laboratory of Prof Robin SB Williams

Application closing date: 18/12/2017

Investigating the molecular mechanisms of medicinal natural products

A 4 year, industry-linked PhD studentship, open to UK/EU students only.

Many natural products have clear potential for medical use. Understanding the molecular mechanism of these compounds will strongly advance their use in a range of medical roles. We have developed an innovative and rapid approach to identifying molecular mechanisms of therapeutic compounds and natural products using a simple non-animal model, the social amoeba Dictyostelium. In this model, we have identified genes controlling the effect of several widely used epilepsy treatments and a range of naturally occurring flavonoids including naringenin. These studies have enabled us to highlight potential therapeutic roles for the compounds and to develop improved treatments.

This project will identify potential molecular targets and cellular changes caused by the natural product ajoene. This compound, derived from garlic, has been widely recognised as an antibiotic (for example in the treatment of cystic fibrosis) and as an antithrombotic agent, and has been proposed to function through the regulation of quorum sensing. We will employ Dictyostelium as a tractable model to characterise how ajoene and related compounds regulate cell function. The research will encompass a broad range of cell and molecular techniques including cell culture, mutant library screening, DNA cloning and plasmid construction, fluorescence microscopy, and biochemical assays. Discoveries regarding the targets and mechanism of action of ajoene will then be translated to mammalian or human models. The project will therefore lead to a better understanding of the mechanism(s) of action of ajoene in a therapeutic context.

Key words: 3Rs, pharmacology, cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, models systems, drug discovery, medicine, natural products.

This will be an extremely competitive program and applications are requested from outstanding Masters graduates or undergraduate students in their final year of a degree, with background knowledge in the areas of biochemistry, molecular biology, or cell biology.

The project will provide a standard research council stipend. Please note that successful applicants must have appropriate UK/EU residence eligibility. Funding is provided by our industrial partner, Neem biotechnology.

Some references from our laboratory:
- Augustin et al (2017) Lancet Neurology, In press
- Williams & Bate (2017) Neuropharmacology, 128: 54-62
- Frej, Otto and Williams (2017) European Journal of Cell Biology; 96(2): 154-163
- Otto, Sharma and Williams (2016) Journal of Alzheimer's disease 52(4):1177-87
- Walker and Williams (2016) Ketogenic Diet and Metabolic Therapies: Expanded Roles in Health and Disease’, Oxford University Press
- Frej et al (2016) Molecular and Cellular Biology, 36(10):1464-79
- Cocorocchio et al (2016) ALTEX, 33(3):225-36.
- Zuckermann et al (2016) British Journal of Pharmacology, 172(22):5306-17
- Chang et al (2015) Brain, 139(2):431-43
- Williams and Bate (2015) Neuropharmacology, 101:566-75
- Walker and Williams (2015) Epilepsy and Behaviour, 49:290-3
- Chang et al (2014) Journal of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, 352(1):43-52
- Cunliffe et al (2014) Seizure, 24:44-51
- Waheed et al (2013) British Journal of Pharmacology, 171(10):2659-70
- Walker and Williams (2013) Biochemical Society Transactions, 41(6):1625-8
- Robery et al (2013) Journal of Cell Science, 126(23):5465-76
- Elphick et al (2012) Disease Models and Mechanism, 5, 231-40
- Chang et al (2012) Disease Models and Mechanism, 5:115-124

Further information about our laboratory can be found at our Web page

For further enquiries, please email Prof. Robin Williams
Application and a description of the application procedure available at: Online application

Prof. Robin SB Williams

Professor of Molecular Cell Biology
Head of Centre for Biomedical Sciences
Royal Holloway
University of London
Egham, Surry
TW20 0EX, UK
Ph: + 44 (0) 1784 276162; Fax: + 44 (0) 1784 414224
Check out our youtube videos: Social amoebae for epilepsy research and Medical Research without Animals

(posted November 15, 2017)

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