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PhD studentship in Biochemistry and Structural Biology – The Molecular Structure of Meiotic Chromosomes

Value of award

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expense of £14,553.  Successful international candidates will be required to make up the difference between the UK/EU fees and international fees.

Number of awards


Start date and duration

September 2017 for a three year PhD.

Application closing date

5 April 2017.


The reduction in chromosome number during meiosis is essential for the production of haploid germ cells that produce healthy offspring upon fertilisation. This is achieved through an elaborate cellular process of chromosome ‘choreography’ during meiotic prophase, in which errors lead to infertility, miscarriage and genetic disorders such as Down’s syndrome. Rapid chromosomal movements enable the identification and synapsis of homologous chromosome pairs. Once achieved, homologues exchange genetic material through crossing over and are then moved into position at metaphase to enable their correct segregation into haploid cells. This intricate process depends upon chromosome telomeric ends being tethered to the nuclear envelope by the meiotic-telomere complex (MAJIN, TERB1, TERB2, TRF1) and connected to the cytoskeleton by the LINC complex (SUN1, KASH5). However, whilst essential for meiosis, we currently lack essential molecular understanding regarding their structure and function.

This PhD project aims to elucidate the molecular structure of the meiotic-telomere and LINC complexes, and their mechanisms of interaction with telomeres and the cytoskeleton. It will involve recombinant protein purification, biochemistry, biophysics (including SEC-MALS, SEC-SAXS, CD and EM) and X-ray crystallography. This project is part of an international collaboration with EM tomography, genetics and cellular biology groups, and will likely result in high impact research findings in the fields of cell division and chromosomal biology. The successful candidate will be a highly-motivated individual with interests in solving fundamental molecular questions of cellular function through structural biology.


Faculty of Medical Sciences

Name of supervisor(s)

Dr O Davies, Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences

Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree or international equivalent in biochemistry or a related area. A further qualification such as an MSc or MRes is advantageous.

This award is available to UK/EU and international applicants. If English is not your first language, you must have IELTS 7 with at least 6.5 in the written component, or equivalent.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create a new account’.  Only mandatory fields need to be completed. However, you will need to include the following information:


For further details, please email Dr Owen Davies, Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences.