Our research lies at the interface of organismal, functional and systems biology. Our principal investigators are internationally-recognised for their research on insect functional genomics, mechanism and application of DNA-rearranging enzymes, the translational genetics of myotonic dystrophy and related unstable DNA disorders and systems biology including ‘omics analysis and computational frameworks.
- PhD: 3-4 years full-time; 5 years part-time;
- MSc (Research): 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time;
Self-funded PhD opportunities
Mechanisms and applications of DNA site-specific recombinases
Outline & aim
Site-specific recombinases are enzymes that promote rearrangements of DNA molecules, by cutting and rejoining DNA strands at precise places within short target sequences (sites). For example, a specific piece of DNA can be cut out of a larger molecule, or its orientation can be reversed. Our research group aims to understand in detail how recombinases catalyse these reactions, and how they are controlled. To do this we use high-resolution structural data and advanced techniques for laboratory analysis. Site-specific recombinases have tremendous potential as tools for manipulating DNA in the fields of biotechnology, synthetic biology and gene therapy. We are investigating how to engineer “designer recombinases” that are suitable for these purposes, and how to use them for novel applications.
The aim of the research project will be to advance our understanding in one of the areas outlined above. For example, the project might be an investigation of the mechanism of DNA strand cutting and rejoining, using novel “single-molecule” methodologies, or to develop novel designer recombinases suitable for targeting specific genes in a living organism for deletion or modification.
- analysis of high-resolution structures
- protein expression, purification and biochemistry
- methods for manipulation of DNA in E. coli
- cloning, sequencing, sequence analysis
- synthetic biology
- novel methods for gene assembly
- advanced methods for analysis of protein-DNA complexes, including single-molecule methods
- Olorunniji, F.J. Rosser, S.J. and Stark, W.M. (2016) Site-specific recombinases: molecular machines for the Genetic Revolution. Biochem. J. 473, 673-684.
- Olorunniji, F.J. et al. (2017). Control of serine integrase recombination directionality by fusion with the directionality factor . Nucleic Acids Res. 45, 8635-8645.
- Proudfoot, C., McPherson, A.L., Kolb, A.F. and Stark, W.M. (2011) Zinc Finger recombinases with adaptable DNA sequence specificity. PLoS ONE 6, e19537.
Our staff have leading expertise and funding in human and model organism research including Drososophila melanogaster and microbes; as well as ‘omics - genomics, transcriptomics and metabolomics. They utilise a multi-disciplinary approach within the Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology (MCSB) with core links to Glasgow Polyomics; and have good external links with industry. Research in molecular genetics has strong alignment with the broad areas of agriculture and food security; bioscience for health; and industrial biotechnology and bioenergy.
Research topics are allied to ongoing research within the institute. Projects can be related to either fundamental or translational science including clinical science and sustainable agriculture. Multi-disciplinary research approaches applied within the molecular genetics research programme include molecular genetics (human, Drosophila and microbial genetics), biochemistry, molecular biology, systems biology, ‘omics (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics), bioinformatics and synthetic biology, as well as cellular imaging of biological functions using advanced technology. Specific areas of interest include:
- modelling kidney disease in Drosophila
- insect neuropeptides and GPCRs
- ‘omics and network modelling in Drosophila
- designer recombinases for genome engineering
- DNA rearrangements for Synthetic Biology
- topoisomerases and DNA topology
- mutational dynamics of unstable DNA in human disease
- new approaches to transcriptomic data analysis
- computational frameworks for omics data integration
Our PhD programme provides excellent training in cutting edge technologies that will be applicable to career prospects in both academia and industry. Many of our PhD graduates go on to research positions in academia, as well as to industry, and to policy and government organisations.
We have strong research connections with international collaborators. Funds are available through the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences to allow visits to international laboratories where part of your project can be carried out. This provides an excellent opportunity for networking and increasing the scientific knowledge and skill set of our PhD students.
- Duration: 3/4 years full-time; 5 years part-time
Individual research projects are tailored around the expertise of principal investigators.
- Duration: 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time
A 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent.
English language requirements
For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)
- 6.5 with no sub-test under 6.0.
Common equivalent English language qualifications
All stated English tests are acceptable for admission to this programme:
TOEFL (ib, my best or athome)
- 90 with minimum R 20, L 19, S 19, W 23.
- 60 with minimum 59 in all sub-tests.
- 120 with 120 in two or more sub-scores including literacy and no subscore below 110 for direct entry, in-sessional support requirement available for those with 120, 100 for 5 week PSE, 100 for 10 week PSE.
- Tests must have been taken within 1 year of start date.
Glasgow International College English Language (and other foundation providers)
- Tests are accepted for academic year following sitting.
University of Glasgow Pre-sessional courses
- Tests are accepted for academic year following sitting.
Alternatives to English Language qualification
- Undergraduate degree from English speaking country (including Canada if taught in English)
- Undergraduate 2+2 degree from English speaking country
- Undergraduate 2+2 TNE degree taught in English in non-English speaking country
- Masters degree from English speaking country
- Masters degree (equivalent on NARIC to UK masters degree) taught in English in non-English speaking country.
For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.
The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the English for Academic Study Unit Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:
Fees and funding
- UK: £4,500
- International & EU: £23,000
Prices are based on the annual fee for full-time study. Fees for part-time study are half the full-time fee.
Additional fees for all students:
- Re-submission by a research student £540
- Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,355
- Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £350
- Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £790
Depending on the nature of the research project, some students will be expected to pay a bench fee (also known as research support costs) to cover additional costs. The exact amount will be provided in the offer letter.
We offer a 20% discount to our alumni on all Postgraduate Research and full Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes. This includes University of Glasgow graduates and those who have completed Junior Year Abroad, Exchange programme or International Summer School with us. The discount is applied at registration for students who are not in receipt of another discount or scholarship funded by the University. No additional application is required.
- £4,407 UK/EU
- £21,920 outside EU
Additional fees for all students:
- Re-submission by a research student £525
- Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,315
- Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £340
- Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £765
We offer a 20% discount to our alumni commencing study in Academic session 2020/21, on all Postgraduate Research and full Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes. This includes University of Glasgow graduates and those who have completed a Study Abroad programme or the Erasmus Programme at the University of Glasgow. This discount can be awarded alongside other University scholarships.
Funding for EU students
The Scottish Government has confirmed that fees for EU students commencing their studies 2020/21 will be at the same level as those for UK student.
The iPhD is not supported by University of Glasgow Scholarship/Funding
The College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences Graduate School provides a vibrant, supportive and stimulating environment for all our postgraduate students. We aim to provide excellent support for our postgraduates through dedicated postgraduate convenors, highly trained supervisors and pastoral support for each student.
Our overarching aim is to provide a research training environment that includes:
- provision of excellent facilities and cutting edge techniques
- training in essential research and generic skills
- excellence in supervision and mentoring
- interactive discussion groups and seminars
- an atmosphere that fosters critical cultural policy and research analysis
- synergy between research groups and areas
- extensive multidisciplinary and collaborative research
- extensive external collaborations both within and beyond the UK
- a robust generic skills programme including opportunities in social and commercial training
How to apply
Identify potential supervisors
All Postgraduate Research Students are allocated a supervisor who will act as the main source of academic support and research mentoring. You may want to identify a potential supervisor and contact them to discuss your research proposal before you apply. Please note, even if you have spoken to an academic staff member about your proposal you still need to submit an online application form.
You can find relevant academic staff members with our staff research interests search.
Gather your documents
Before applying please make sure you gather the following supporting documentation:
- Final or current degree transcripts including grades (and an official translation, if needed) – scanned copy in colour of the original document.
- Degree certificates (and an official translation, if needed): scanned copy in colour of the original document.
- Two references on headed paper and signed by the referee. One must be academic, the other can be academic or professional. References may be uploaded as part of the application form or you may enter your referees contact details on the application form. We will then email your referee and notify you when we receive the reference. We can also accept confidential references direct to firstname.lastname@example.org, from the referee’s university or business email account.
- Research proposal, CV, samples of written work as per requirements for each subject area.
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