Postgraduate research 

Systems Biology PhD/iPhD/MSc (Research)

Start dates for incoming postgraduate research students

1 October 2020 is the preferred date to start your PhD [or the date on your offer letter].

We will run a full on-line induction and training programme that may be taken remotely for the first month. Most of our doctoral researcher training programme will also be available online and we will offer many remote opportunities to help you become part of the Graduate School and wider University community.  

Research that involves laboratory work may start following the completion of induction (all labs are currently up and running).

Some types of research (such as non-laboratory work) and supervision can be carried out entirely remotely and this may be the most appropriate way for you to work at the moment.  Contact your supervisor, if you believe this applies to your research to discuss requirements for home/remote working. You may also require the agreement of the subject, school or institute convener if you wish to carry out your PhD remotely for a fixed period. You may not continue remotely unless an adequate plan is agreed to ensure sufficient work can be undertaken prior to starting the experimental work. It is important that starting remotely does not affect the overall PhD timescale.

Delayed start dates

We understand there may be good reasons to delay:

  • If it is necessary to travel to Glasgow to begin your research, but there are restrictions preventing travel at this time, then a delay to 5 January 2021 is encouraged [when we will run full on-line induction and training programme]. You may also delay to another start time with the agreement of your supervisor and Graduate School.
  • For subjects where laboratory work is required to commence immediately following on-line induction and training and you are unable to come to Glasgow, you should consider delaying your start-date. Contact your supervisor or the Graduate School in this instance.
  • If your research involves objects, artefacts, archives or fieldwork, you should discuss this with your supervisor. Some kinds of work may be able to be started remotely; in other cases, it may be advisable to delay the start-date.
  • External government sponsors may prefer a delay and the University is happy to support this.

From our point of view, there is no disadvantage in deferring your PhD to a later agreed start date. Scholarship holders should check that this can still be provided with a delayed start.

Office and study space

At present, current staff and research students are not using office spaces on campus. We do not have a confirmed date for the return to office use, but all work that can be undertaken off-campus (ie is not lab-based) should be done at home or remotely at present.

Some study spaces are becoming available on campus with a booking system in place, such as the postgraduate study space in the University Library.

International/EU students remotely starting a funded PhD

You should check with your funder that you can be paid a stipend if you are not in the UK. If you are in receipt of a scholarship, you should contact the Graduate School for advice on opening a bank account to allow stipend payments.


An illustration depicting a cancer cell attached to tissue within the body

Systems biology emphasises a multi-level, integrative approach to understanding how living organisms work. With our close links to the polyomics facility, we apply a full range of post-genomic technologies to aid our understanding.

Research projects

Self funded PhD opportunities

Comparative functional genomics for insect control

Outline & aim

Insects are the most successful class of life on earth, with more species than all other organisms combined. It’s inevitable that insects impinge on human life in both positive (e.g. pollinators) and negative (disease vectors, destroyers of crops) ways. The availability of genomes for ever increasing numbers of insects allows us to understand insect function more generally than has ever been possible, and may allow us to devise new, more specific –and thus greener- methods of insect control for food security.

This project will draw on our established skills in insect physiology and genomics (e.g. flyatlas.org) to increase our understanding of fundamental processes, like renal function, that are mission-critical to survival. The student will join a large, vibrant research group, funded by the BBSRC, NIH and Horizon 2020, and will be trained in a wide range of contemporary skills, listed below.

Techniques

  • Functional genomics: transcriptomics, microarrays, RNAseq, metabolomics, informatics.
  • Genetics: Drosophila genetics, transgenics, crosses, conditional expression.
  • Physiology: microdissections, functional assays
  • Imaging: microscopy, confocal microscopy, immunofluorescence, reporter genes 

References

  • Beyenbach et al. "The developmental, molecular, and transport biology of Malpighian tubules." Annual review of entomology 55 (2010): 351-374.
  • Robinson et al. "FlyAtlas: database of gene expression in the tissues of Drosophila melanogaster." Nucleic acids research 41, no. D1 (2013): D744-D750.
  • Cabrero et al. "Chloride channels in stellate cells are essential for uniquely high secretion rates in neuropeptide-stimulated Drosophila diuresis."Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111.39 (2014): 14301-14306.
  • Efetova et al. "Separate roles of PKA and EPAC in renal function unraveled by the optogenetic control of cAMP levels in vivo." Journal of cell science 126, no. 3 (2013): 778-788.
  • Cabrero et al.. "A biogenic amine and a neuropeptide act identically: tyramine signals through calcium in Drosophila tubule stellate cells." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 280, no. 1757 (2013): 20122943.

Contact

Julian.Dow@glasgow.ac.uk

Drosophila models of human disease

Outline & aim

To cure human disease, models are needed to provide better understanding, and to identify possible treatments. Although the standard lab model is the mouse, labs around the world have found that many human diseases can be modelled cheaply, quickly and ethically in the simple genetic model fly, Drosophila melanogaster. This can provide huge advantages, and can bring real research advances within the scope of a PhD project. 

Nowhere is the need for models greater than in the study of kidney (renal) disease, as the human kidney is hugely complex and surrounded by a dense, opaque sheath. Our lab has shown that we can model serious kidney disease in Drosophila, and so this project is to study such diseases, like inborn errors of metabolism (IEMs) and kidney stones, in this simple organism. he student will join a large, vibrant research group, funded by the BBSRC, NIH and Horizon 2020, and will be trained in a wide range of contemporary skills, listed below.

Techniques

  • Functional genomics: transcriptomics, microarrays, RNAseq, metabolomics, informatics.
  • Genetics: Drosophila genetics, transgenics, crosses, conditional expression.
  • Physiology: microdissections, functional assays
  • Imaging: microscopy, confocal microscopy, immunofluorescence, reporter genes

References

  • Beyenbach, Klaus W., Helen Skaer, and Julian AT Dow. "The developmental, molecular, and transport biology of Malpighian tubules." Annual review of entomology 55 (2010): 351-374.
  • Robinson, Scott W., Pawel Herzyk, Julian AT Dow, and David P. Leader. "FlyAtlas: database of gene expression in the tissues of Drosophila melanogaster." Nucleic acids research 41, no. D1 (2013): D744-D750.
  • Dow, J. A., & Romero, M. F. (2010). Drosophila provides rapid modeling of renal development, function, and disease. American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology, 299(6), F1237-F1244.
  • Hirata, T., Cabrero, P., Berkholz, D. S., Bondeson, D. P., Ritman, E. L., Thompson, J. R., ... & Romero, M. F. (2012). In vivo Drosophilia genetic model for calcium oxalate nephrolithiasis. American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology, 303(11), F1555-F1562.
  • Al Bratty, M., Hobani, Y., Dow, J. A., & Watson, D. G. (2011). Metabolomic profiling of the effects of allopurinol on Drosophila melanogaster. Metabolomics,7(4), 542-548.

Contact

Julian.Dow@glasgow.ac.uk

Synthetic biology for enhancing crop water use efficiency

Outline & aim

Stomata are pores that provide for gaseous exchange across the impermeable cuticle of leaves. Stomata exert major controls on the water and photosynthetic carbon cycles of the world and can limit photosynthetic rates by 50% or more when water demand exceeds supply. Guard cells surround the stomatal pore and regulate its aperture. Our deep knowledge of guard cells – much arising from this laboratory – gives real substance to prospects for engineering stomata to improve crop yields under water-limited conditions.

This project will engage the synthetic tools of optobiology with the aim of accelerating stomatal responses to environmental drivers, especially light and water availability, both important for crop production. The project will draw on optobiological switches – notably LOV domain peptides – and will use these to control the gating of key ion channels at the guard cell membrane that are known to drive stomatal movements.

Techniques

The student will gain expertise in synthetic and molecular biological methods, and a deep grounding in the concepts of membrane transport, cell biology and physiology. Skills training will include in-depth engagement in synthetic molecular biology, protein biochemistry and molecular genetic/protein design, single-cell imaging and fluorescence microscopy and analysis. Additional training may include single-cell recording techniques in electrophysiology and membrane transport.

References

  • Wang, et al. (2014) Plant Physiol 164,1593-99
  • Lawson & Blatt (2014) Plant Physiol 164, 1556-70
  • Eisenach, et al. (2012) Plant J 69, 241-51

Contact

Michael.Blatt@glasgow.ac.uk

Overview

Systems Biology draws on the strengths of molecular and cell biology to try to build an integrative picture of how organisms work. Implicit in the approach is big data (coming from imaging, microarray, RNAseq, proteomics or metabolomics, for which we are very well equipped), together with mathematical and computational biology to draw higher-level insights. Systems biology also works very well with genetic model organisms, such as yeast, Drosophila or Arabidopsis; or in human biomedicine.

Through their research interests in drug development, biotechnology and clinical applications, many of our project supervisors have strong links with pharmaceutical and agrochemical industry.  The interdisciplinary nature of systems biology means that these highly active supervisors have international collaborations both with other Universities and industry. Funds are available through the college of MVLS to allow visits to international laboratories where part of your project can be carried out. This provides an excellent opportunity for networking and increasing your scientific knowledge and skill set.

Research topics are allied to ongoing research within the institute, the majority of which are basic science projects. A variety of multi-disciplinary research approaches are applied, including biochemistry, molecular biology, molecular genetics, materials science, polyomics (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics etc), bioinformatics, structural biology, microscopy and imaging techniques. Specific areas of interest include:

  • modelling organ specificity in the plant circadian clock
  • post-genomic insights into tissue function and control in Drosophila
  • optimising recombinant protein expression and secretion in mammalian cells
  • systems biology approaches of stress-induced plasticity of the mitochondrial intermembrane space
  • light control of local and long distance phytohormone signalling in Arabidopsis
  • quantitative systems biology of membrane transport and cellular homeostasis
  • systems biology of gas exchange and photosynthesis, from molecule to the field
  • materials and metabolomics for identification of stem cell fate modifying metabolites
  • analysis and integration of large omics datasets

Study options

PhD

  • Duration: 3/4 years full-time; 5 years part-time

Individual research projects are tailored around the expertise of principal investigators.

MSc (Research)

  • Duration: 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time

Integrated PhD programmes (5 years)

Our integrated PhD allows you to combine Masters level teaching with your chosen research direction in a 1+3+1 format. 

International students with MSc and PhD scholarships/funding do not have to apply for 2 Visas or exit and re-enter the country between programmes. International and UK/EU students may apply.

Year 1

Taught masters level modules are taken alongside students on our masters programmes. Our research-led teaching supports you to fine tune your research ideas and discuss these with potential PhD supervisors. You will gain a valuable introduction to academic topics, research methods, laboratory skills and the critical evaluation of research data. Your grades must meet our requirements in order to gain entry on to a PhD research programme. If not, you will receive the Masters degree only.

Years 2, 3 and 4

PhD programme with research/lab work, completing an examinable piece of independent research in year 4.

Year 5

Thesis write up.

All applicants must have full funding before starting their iPhD programme.

Entry requirements

PhD programmes

Awarded or expected First-class or high Upper Second-class BSc degree.

Integrated PhD programmes

Upper Second-class Honours degree or international equivalent in a relevant subject area.

English Language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English.

Fees and funding

Fees

2021/22

  • UK fee to be confirmed by ukri.org (2020/21 fee was £4,407)
  • 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.

Alumni discount

We offer a 10% 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.

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2020/21 fees

  • £4,407 UK/EU
  • £21,920 outside EU

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 £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

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.

Alumni discount

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.

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Funding

Support

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

Resources

We offer a wide range of cutting-edge research facilities that span 3 buildings, including:

  • core facilities in fluorescence activated cell sorting analysis
  • cell imaging and biophysical techniques, with NMR.
  • cutting edge microarray
  • next-generation sequencing
  • proteomics and metabolomics facilities
  • in-house informatics support

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:

  1. Final or current degree transcripts including grades (and an official translation, if needed) – scanned copy in colour of the original document.
  2. Degree certificates (and an official translation, if needed): scanned copy in colour of the original document.
  3. 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 rio-researchadmissions@glasgow.ac.uk, from the referee’s university or business email account.
  4. Research proposal, CV, samples of written work as per requirements for each subject area.

Apply now

I've applied. What next?

If you have any other trouble accessing Applicant Self-Service, please see Application Troubleshooting/FAQs. 


Contact us

Before you apply

PhD/MSc/MD: email mvls-gradschool@glasgow.ac.uk

iPhD: email mvls-iphd@glasgow.ac.uk

After you have submitted your application

PhD/MSc/MD/iPhD: contact our Admissions team

Any references may be submitted by email to: rio-researchadmissions@glasgow.ac.uk