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Graduate Admissions


SUPERVISORS: 1. Anne Willis


Regulation of protein synthesis makes a major contribution to post-transcriptional control pathways. Under cell stress resulting from exposure to a wide range of agents from environmental e.g. UVB light, to treatment therapeutically relevant chemicals such as doxorubicin or platinum-based compounds, post-transcriptional programmes are initiated to orchestrate the appropriate cellular response. Recent data suggest that the elongation stage of protein synthesis is a central regulatory node for translational control and data from our laboratory with our collaboration, has shown that message specific, elongation control is central following oxidative stress1 and for disease mechanisms in both tumorigenesis 2 and neurodegeneration3,4. The overarching aims of this project are to: I) Define the role of elongation control in reprogramming translation following toxic injury II) Understand how message specific regulation of the elongation phase of protein synthesis is achieved.

  1. Marini A, et al (2018) TAp73 contributes to the oxidative stress response by regulating protein synthesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115(24):6219-6224
  2. Faller WJ et al (2-15) mTORC1-mediated translational elongation limits intestinal tumour initiation and growth. Nature 517:497-500
  3. Peretti D et al (2015) RBM3 mediates structural plasticity and protective effects of cooling in neurodegeneration. Nature. 518:236-9
  4. Bastide et al (2017) RTN3 Is a Novel Cold-Induced Protein and Mediates Neuroprotective Effects of RBM3. Curr Biol. 27:638-650

The research will be conducted within the MRC Toxicology Unit which is a core-funded institute within the School of Biological Sciences, University of Cambridge. This leading international research unit provides state of the art research facilities, with excellent opportunities for collaborative interaction within a vibrant community at the University of Cambridge.

Students are encouraged to attend a variety of training modules and courses, available within Cambridge University. In addition, students follow the Toxicology Unit's weekly external and internal seminar programs and are included in the postdoc/student forums which take place each month. Together this package offers excellent opportunities for collaboration and career development.

It is recommended that you contact the supervisor prior to making your formal application:

More information regarding the Willis lab can be found here:

This studentship is for four years commencing October 2020 with an annual stipend of £15,009 (tax free).

Funding Notes

Candidates must expect to obtain qualifications at the level of a first-class or 2.1 Honours Degree in a biological science or related discipline.

Full funding is available to UK and EU applicants only.

This advert will remain open until 10/02/2020 or until a suitable candidate is found. Please check the Toxicology Unit website for updates:

Applications will need to be made through the University Application Portal and will entail an application fee of £65. Please enter the project title in the 'Proposed title of Research' textbox.

Your online application needs to include: - A CV, including full details of all University course grades to date. - Contact details for two academic or professional referees. - A personal statement outlining your interest in a specific project area, what you hope to achieve from a PhD, and your research experience to date.

If you have any queries regarding the application process please contact Rebecca Heatherley at

Please quote reference PU22066 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Key Information

MRC Toxicology Unit

Reference: PU22066

Dates and deadlines:

Friday, 10 January, 2020
Closing Date
Monday, 10 February, 2020