BBSRC DTP PhD – Understanding Microtubule Dependent Signalling in the Generation of Cellular Asymmetries

Newcastle University

Newcastle University

Value of award

Depending on how you meet the BBSRC eligibility criteria, a full award covers tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for the duration of your PhD and an annual stipend of £14,057 (15/16). A partial award covers fees at the UK/EU rate only.

Number of awards: 1

Start date and duration

Starting before December 2015 for 3 years.

Application closing date

The post will remain open until a suitable applicant is appointed. Early application is advised.


The aim of this project is to understand the microtubule (MT) dependent mechanisms that regulate cell polarity and their implications for complex processes such as ageing.

By breaking symmetry, cells are able to generate diversity, migrate, and organise themselves into more complex structures. In such cell polarity processes, MTs often act as an internal source of asymmetry leading to acto-myosin reorganisations and asymmetric distribution of polarity effectors (PAR proteins). Polarity maintenance is crucial for tissue homeostasis and when lost it can lead to cancer. In addition, accumulating evidence suggests that loss of polarity could be a hallmark of cellular ageing.

In previous research we have generated a comprehensive polarity genetic network, identifying candidate genes and signalling pathways important for cell polarity (NatCellBiol.2012 vol.15(1) pp.103-12). Exploiting this network the student will identify proteins involved in the MT dependent mechanisms that regulate C.elegans asymmetric first cell division. This cell division has proved an excellent model for identifying key conserved polarity regulators and understanding cell polarity mechanisms. To characterize the candidate genes we will perform loss of function analysis by RNAi in combination with live imaging and immunofluorescence staining of polarity and MT markers. Genetic screens will be carried out to determine the signalling pathways involved and to analyse their possible relationship to lifespan regulatory genes.

The supervisory team’s expertise in C. elegans (JR,EV), cell polarity (JR) and ageing (EV) will provide a comprehensive research environment that will support the scientific growth of the student and his training in state-of-the-art molecular and cell biology techniques.



Name of supervisor(s)

Dr J Rodriguez, Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences

Dr Elizabeth Veal, Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences

Eligibility Criteria

Candidates should have or expect to achieve a First Class or 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant science subject. Students interested in developmental biology, cell polarity and in cell biology/microscopy techniques are encouraged to apply.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application form. Only mandatory fields need to be completed but applicants must:

  • insert the programme code 8300F in the programme of study section 
  • select ‘PhD in the Faculty of Medical Sciences – Cell and Molecular Biosciences’ as the programme of study
  • insert the studentship code CB120 in the studentship/partnership reference field 
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code CB120 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • attach degree transcripts and certificates and (if English is not your first language) a copy of your English language qualifications.


For further details, please email Dr J Rodriguez, (telephone +44 (0) 191 208 8143)

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