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.

Study options

PhD programmes

PhD programmes in systems biology last 3 to 4 years with research topics being 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

Integrated PhD programmes (4 years)

  • Year 1: completion of taught masters level modules 
  • Years 2 to 4: research degree

Completion of taught Masters level modules before entering a research PhD will provide you with a valuable introduction to academic topics and research methods, whilst providing key training in laboratory skills and the critical evaluation of research data.

Our ethos of research-led teaching will allow you to hone your research ideas and discuss these with potential PhD supervisors during year 1. Upon successful completion of the taught component, alongside students on our masters programmes, you will progress to your research degree in year 2 and complete an examinable piece of independent research by the end of the 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

2019/20

  • £4,320 UK/EU (to be confirmed by UKRI)
  • £21,020 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 £500
  • Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,250
  • Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £320
  • Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £730
  • Research students registered as non-supervised Thesis Pending students (50% refund will be granted if the student completes thesis within the first six months of the period) £300

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

A 10% discount is available to University of Glasgow alumni. This includes graduates and those who have completed a Junior Year Abroad, Exchange programme or International Summer School at the University of Glasgow. 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.

2018/19 fees

  • £4,260 UK/EU
  • £20,150 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:

  • Submission by a research student £480
  • Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,200
  • Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £300
  • Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £680
  • Research students registered as non-supervised Thesis Pending students (50% refund will be granted if the student completes thesis within the first six months of the period) £270

Depending on the nature of the research project, some students will be expected to pay a bench fee to cover additional costs. The exact amount will be provided in the offer letter.

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

Step 1: identify potential supervisors

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.


Step 2: 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 (academic and/or professional).
  4. Research proposal, CV, samples of written work as per requirements for each subject area.

Submitting References

To complete your application we will need two references (one must be academic the other can be academic or professional).

There are two options for you to submit references as part of your application.  You can upload a document as part of your application or you can enter in your referee’s contact details and we will contact them to request a reference.

Option 1 – Uploading as part of the application form

Your references should be on official headed paper. These should also be signed by the referee. You can then upload these via theOnline Application form with the rest your documents to complete the application process.

Please be aware that documents must not exceed 5MB in size and therefore you may have to upload your documents separately. The online system allow you to upload supporting documents only in PDF format. For a free PDF writer go to www.pdfforge.org.

Option 2 - Entering contact details as part of the application form

If you enter your referees contact details including email on the application form we will email them requesting they submit a reference once you have submitted the application form.  When the referee responds and sends a reference you will be sent an email to confirm the university has received this.

After submitting your application form

Use our Applicant Self Service uploading documents function to submit a new reference. We can also accept confidential references direct to rio-researchadmissions@glasgow.ac.uk, from the referee’s university or business email account.  


Step 3: apply online

Once you have all your supporting documentation you can apply through our Online Application System


I've applied. What next?

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

If you are requested to upload further documents

Log into the Applicant Self Service and scroll down to the Admissions Section. The screenshot below indicates the section on the page, and the specific area you should go to, highlighted in red:

Applicant self service

Documents must be uploaded in .jpg, .jpeg or .pdf format and must not exceed 5MB in size.  There is a maximum 10MB upload size for all documents with the application.

Decisions

Once a decision has been made regarding your application the Research Admissions Office will contact you by email.

If you are made an unconditional offer

You can accept your offer through the Applicant-Self-Service by clicking on the ‘Accept/Decline link’ for your chosen programme under the ‘Admissions Section’ at the bottom of the Applicant Self Service screen.  You can access the Applicant Self Service by using the link, username and password you used to apply and selecting the “Self Service” button below your application.

Please make sure you accept your unconditional offer within 4 weeks of receiving your offer. If you are an international student your CAS will not be issued until you have accepted an unconditional offer.

If you are made a conditional offer

If you accept a conditional offer then the offer status on Applicant-Self-Service will change to ‘incomplete’ to indicate that the application is incomplete until such time as all the conditions are met.

Your offer letter will list all the conditions that apply to your offer and you can upload the required document(s) through Applicant Self Service. If you have met the conditions satisfactorily, you will automatically be sent an unconditional offer.

If your application is unsuccessful

If your application is unsuccessful then we will send you an email to inform you of this which will outline the reason why we have been unable to offer you a place on this particular programme. Please note that your application status will be updated to 'Cancelled' on Applicant Self Service if the offer is rejected.

Deferring your offer

If you want to defer your start date, please contact us directly at rio-researchadmissions@glasgow.ac.uk. We need authorisation from your supervisor before we confirm your request to defer. Once we have this we will contact you by email to confirm.

How to register

After you have accepted an unconditional offer you will receive an email nearer to the start of your studies to tell you how to register online using the University's MyCampus website, the University’s student information system. That email will provide you with your personal login details and the website address. Please ensure that your email address is kept up to date as all correspondence is sent via email. You can update your email address through the Applicant Self Service Portal under the Personal Information section.


Contact us

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