Protein liquid-liquid phase separation and liquid-to-solid phase transition in neurodegeneration

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 1 October 2022.


To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for PhD Medical Studies (and select the entry point of October 2022), then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship and name the project at the top of your personal statement.

Online application

Before applying, please ensure you have read the Doctoral College’s general information on applying for a research degree.

For more information on the admissions process, please contact

Project description 

Neurodegeneration is a great challenge to the modern society. It is important to understand the pathways and mechanisms to the development of the devastating conditions. Protein misfolding toxicity is a critical feature for protein aggregation-related neurodegeneration. Protein liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) could be involved in protein aggregation and its associated toxicity. We found that several aggregation-prone proteins are subject to novel phosphorylation, which could potentially regulate their LLPS and aggregation.

The PhD studentship aims to investigate novel aggregation-prone protein phosphorylation, LLPS and its potential implication in neuro-proteotoxicity. Experiments will be performed using molecular and cell biological tools with cell lines, patient-derived iPSC-induced neurons, and other physiologically relevant models. Training will be provided for the development of both knowledge and technical skills to enable the trainee to conduct high-quality and independent scientific research in the fields of protein biology, autophagy and programmed cell death. For more information, please see our recent publications: Valionyte et al, Cell Death Differ, 2022; Yang Y, et al, Nat Commun 10:3759, 2019; Roberts et al, Hum Mol Genet 29:216, 2020; Valionyte et al, J Mol Biol 432:2673, 2020; Li et al, Nature 575:203, 2019; Button RW, et al, J Biol Chem 292:13599, 2017.


Applicants should have (at least) a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant MSc or MRes qualification.

The studentship is supported for three years and includes full home tuition fees plus a stipend of £16,062 per annum (2022/23 rate). The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for home fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover international fees will have to cover the difference between the home and the international tuition fee rates (approximately £12,670 per annum 2022/23 rate).

NB: The studentship is supported for three years of the four-year registration period. The fourth year is a self-funded ‘writing-up’ year.

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Professor Shouqing Luo at However, applications must be made in accordance with the details shown below.

The closing date for applications is noon on Tuesday 14 July 2022. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview around two weeks after the closing date. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received a response within six weeks of the closing date should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.