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Postgrad topics in Genetics

Some of the projects listed below are for 2013 or 2012, but there is unlikely to be substantial change for 2015 entry :

Boris Adryan - Computational and Genomics Approaches to Drosophila Transcriptional Regulation > Lab webpage

  • Metazoan development relies on the precise regulation of gene expression, which is facilitated by transcription factors. The Adryan lab is interested in the combinatorial logic of Drosophila transcription factors. We would like to understand how developmental expression programmes establish modules of interacting transcription factors, and how they bind in different combinations to their targets sites in the genome

Julie Ahringer - Chromatin regulation in Gene expression / The establishment and Transduction of Cell Polarity in C. elegans > Lab webpage

  • We investigate functions of chromatin regulators and histone modifications in transcriptional and post-transcriptional gene regulation during development
  • We also study how cells establish, maintain, and transduce cell polarity information. We use genome-wide RNAi screening to identify genes involved in these processes

Rafael Carazo Salas- Functional Genomics of Cell Morphogenesis > Lab webpage

  • An extraordinary capacity of cells is their ability to modulate their shape, polarity and intracellular cytoskeletal organisation, according to the functions they need to perform. Not surprisingly, when cells lose control over that capacity they malfunction, which in humans leads to many pathologies ranging from neuronal disorders to cancer
  • We aim to discover the gene and protein networks that regulate cell shape, polarity and the cytoskeleton, in space and time. To that end we develop quantitative, multi-disciplinary strategies combining high-throughput/high-content and super-resolution microscopy, genetics, biochemistry and computational methods

Viji Draviam - Human Chromosome Segregation and Aneuploidy > Lab webpage

  • Aneuploidy, or irregular number of chromosomes, is a hallmark of aggressive cancers. Errors during cell division can result in inaccurate segregation of chromosomes and aneuploidy. We study how human cells ensure accurate chromosome segregation and thereby prevent aneuploidy. For this we use a range of live-cell imaging, biochemistry, molecular biology and computational tools

Christine Farr - Vertebrate Chromosome Biology > Lab webpage

  • The functional organisation of centromere domains
  • The role of toposiomerase II at the centromere  and the influence of SUMOylation
  • The role of TOPBP1 and PICH in mitotic chromosome segregation

Anne Ferguson-Smith - Pre- and Post-natal Mammalian Development

[Not currently - 2015 - accepting PhD students]

Ian Furner - Epigenetics in Arabidopsis thaliana > Lab webpage

  • Projects on the molecular genetics and genomics of gene silencing, DNA methylation, siRNA and RNAi

David Glover - The Regulation of Mitosis and Meiosis > Lab webpage

  • Drosophila molecular genetics provides an inroad to understand the regulation of the progression through mitosis and meiosis, and the important roles played by such structures as the centrosome, kinetochore and the spindle itself. We can progress from this fundamental knowledge to study the abnormal behaviour of the mitotic apparatus in human tumours

Chris Illingworth - Microbial Evolution > Lab webpage

  • Next-generation sequencing data grants an unprecedented level of insight into the composition of microbial populations. We are interested in developing novel computational approaches for the analysis of genome sequence data, in order to gain insights into rapid evolutionary processes.
  • Our work is currently focused on two main topics : Understanding the global and within-host evolution of viral pathogens, and, via collaboration with experimental groups, the interpretation of genetic data from evolutionary experiments. We welcome applications not only from geneticists, but also from students in other quantitative disciplines (mathematics, physics, computer science etc.)

Frank Jiggins - Host-Parasite Evolution and Genetics > Lab webpage

  • There is enormous variation within populations of insects in their susceptibility to infectious disease. This variation is important as it determines the rate at which mosquitoes transmit disease, and whether beneficial insects like bees can survive infection. By studying this we can understand the evolutionary arms races between hosts and parasites. We offer projects on Drosophila and mosquito disease vectors, both of which combine genomics, classical genetics and evolutionary analysis
  • The first project is to investigate the causes of variation in susceptibility to infection by identifying the genes that cause variation in the resistance of Drosophila to viruses. Using whole-genome approaches we will identify polymorphisms controlling resistance. We can then go on to study how natural selection is acting on this variation in natural populations, which will provide insights into how parasites drive the evolution of their hosts
  • The second project aims to understand why the mosquito Aedes aegypti varies in its ability to transmit disease. Populations of this important disease vector vary in many key traits relating to disease transmission, including susceptibility to important human pathogens. This project would combine work in the insectary and large-scale genome sequencing to understand the molecular and evolutionary causes of this variation

Yuu Kimata - Cell Cycle in Development and Differentiation > Lab webpage

  • The cell cycle coordinates with development and differentiation in order to form and maintain the body and distinct organs in multicellular organisms. We are eager to understand how cell cycle progression is controlled in the body of the developing organism and how the cell cycle is coupled to differentiation. Our current focus is the regulation and functions of the APC/C ubiquitin ligase and the centrosome in Drosophila neural stem cells. We utilise Drosophila as an in vivo model system, combining biochemistry and molecular biology

Buon-Kyoung Koo - Homeostatic Regulation of Adult Stem Cells

[Not accepting PhD students until at least 2016]

Catherine Lindon - Cell Biology of Mitosis and Cytokinesis

[Dr Lindon will move to the Department of Pharmacology with effect 1 June 2015]

Alfonso Martinez Arias - Integration of Cell Signalling in Development > Lab webpage

  • We studyhow different signalling pathways interact with each other during development and with transcription factor networks during development to fuel state transitions between cell states. We have a special interest in Notch and Wingless signalling and are using mouse embryonic stem cells and the stem cells of the gut in Drosophila, as systems to explore these questions. The lab has an emphasis on interdisciplinarity and quantitative approaches to developmental problems. Projects include:
  • Lineage analysis in vivo and in culture
  • Monitoring gene expression live through fluorescent reporters and analyzing the effects that signalling pathways have on this dynamics
  • Analysis of cell fate decisions in mouse embryonic stem cells
  • Development of quantitative methods for the analysis of live gene expression

Erik Miska - Small Regulatory RNA

[Information to be supplied]

Cahir O'Kane - Molecular Analysis of Synaptic Function and Membrane Traffic in Drosophila > Lab webpage

  • Structure and function of axonal endoplasmic reticulum, and the interplay between axonal membrane traffic and axon degeneration
  • Mechanisms of protection against the neurodegeneration caused by protein aggregation in Drosophila
  • Understanding neuronal circuit function in Drosophila

Steven Russell - Genomics and Systems Biology of Drosophila > Lab webpage

  • We are using genomics approaches, including microarray-based gene expression analysis and ChIP-on-chip, to study aspects of developmental gene regulation and chromatin structure in flies
  • We are particularly interested in the function of Sox-domain transcription factors in CNS and testis development, and the role of Hox proteins in morphogenesis

Aylwyn Scally - Evolutionary Genomics > Lab webpage

  • Investigating demography and speciation within the great apes and other primates using whole-genome sequence data
  • Development of computational approaches in evolutionary genomics

Marisa Segal - Cell Cycle Control of Spindle Polarity in Budding Yeast > Lab webpage

  • Chromosomal segregation along an axis of cell polarity is a hallmark of asymmetric cell divisions throughout evolution. The budding yeast S. cerevisiae is a unique model to explore spindle orientation linked to cell polarity. In budding yeast, pole-derived astral microtubules target the spindle poles asymmetrically (bud versus mother cell) orienting the spindle to intersect the bud neck. Spindle pole components are evolutionary conserved and studies in yeast have effectively predicted similar centrosome asymmetry in stem cell self-renewing divisions. We seek to bridge the mechanisms of cell polarity, spindle orientation and cell fate under cell cycle control as is only attainable at this time using budding yeast to uncover fundamental principles for establishment of centrosome asymmetry

Daniel St Johnston - Molecular analysis of Cell Polarity and mRNA Localization in Drosophila > Lab webpage

  • The two main body axes of Drosophila are determined by the localization of three maternal mRNAs to different positions within the oocyte. Our goal is to elucidate the mechanisms that underlie the polarization of the oocyte and the localization of these mRNAs, and to examine whether they are conserved in other polarized cells, such as epithelia and neurons

David Summers - Molecular Genetics of Bacteria and their Plasmids > Lab webpage

  • Current research in the Summers laboratory is focused on the role of indole in bacterial cell signaling. We have recently demonstrated the involvement of a novel mode of indole action (pulse signaling) during E. coli stationary phase entry. We also study the role of indole in the response of bacteria to a range of environmental insults including temperature, antibiotics and oxidizing agents
  • Projects available focus on the role of indole as an intra-cellular messenger regulating key aspects of the bacterial cell cycle. In particular we are interested in the role of indole-induced changes in trans-membrane potential as part of the signaling mechanism. In the biophysical aspects of our work we collaborate closely with Ulrich Keyser’s group at the Cavendish Physics laboratory
  • The laboratory also has translational interests in the exploitation of E. coli as a cell factory and the development of novel antibacterial agents

John Welch - Molecular Evolution > Lab webpage

  • Adaptive genome evolution of bacterial pathogens (particularly S. aureus, and the genus Rickettsia)
  • Interpreting genomic regions of enhanced differentiation (particularly in Mytilus mussels)
  • The evolution of reproductive isolation


A full listing of Groups in the Department appears here, and a description of research by themes here, but please not that only the labs listed on this page are currently accepting Graduate students.