Gene therapy using a modified Netrin-1 gene to enhance peripheral nerve repair

PhD studentship available full time or part-time

Project title: Gene therapy using a modified Netrin-1 gene to enhance peripheral nerve repair  

Reference number: 17-18-015R2                  

Start date: 1 January 2019

Director of studies: Dr Xin-peng Dun

2nd supervisor: Professor David Parkinson

3rd supervisor:  Dr Xinzhong Li

The Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry are seeking to appoint PhD candidates of outstanding ability to join their exciting and rapidly expanding programme of internationally rated research. 

The Faculty is committed to research excellence with a recent £25 million investment in staff and facilities. Medical research here was ranked first for outputs in REF2014.

Project information

Our lab is interested in regenerative biology and how the peripheral nervous system may repair itself following injury; our aim is to boost the repair of such injuries in human patients to provide a better clinical outcome. In this PhD, we will use molecular biology techniques to create expression vectors carrying engineered Netrin-1, an axon guidance molecule. 

The binding properties of the mutated Netrin-1 protein on Netrin-1 attractive and repulsive receptors will be verified by co-immunoprecipitation and western blot. 

Validated vectors will be used to produce adeno-associated virus for Schwann cell infection and in vivo delivery in a rat sciatic nerve injury model. Functional recovery will then be studied to measure the effect of the modified Netrin-1 protein on peripheral nerve repair. 

The successful candidate will also have chance to use Netrin-1 and DCC conditional knockout mouse models and study how Schwann cell derived Netrin-1 promotes peripheral nerve regeneration. For further information regarding the project, please see (International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2017, 18(3), 491) or contact Dr Xin-peng Dun.

Candidates will be shortlisted against the following criteria:

  • Applications with a first degree at 2:1 level or above
  • First degree or master’s degree in life science or biochemistry
  • International applicants must also have an IELTS score of 7.0 or above (with no less than 6.5 in any element)
  • Experience in using molecular biology, cell biology and biochemistry techniques.

Funding notes:

The studentship is supported for three years and includes full Home/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of approximately £14,777 p.a. 

The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for Home/EU fees with relevant qualifications. 

Applicants required to cover international tuition fee rates will have to pay the difference between the Home/EU and international fee rates. For the 2018/19 academic year, the difference is £10,610. If you are selected you will be required to provide financial assurances.

To apply:

Access the application form and further information on the admissions process on our applicant and enquirers page. Please mark the application with REF: 17-18-015R2 for the attention of Francesca Niedzielski. A project proposal is not required.

If you have any questions email:  

The University of Plymouth is committed to equality of opportunity, promoting a diverse and inclusive culture, demonstrated through our commitment to the gender equality Athena SWAN Charter and as a Stonewall diversity champion. All applications will be judged solely on merit; however, we particularly welcome applications from currently under-represented groups.

The closing date for applications is noon on Friday 26 October 2018. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview after the closing date. Applicants who have not received an offer of a place by Friday 16 November 2018 should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.