Self-funded PhD projects
Exploring redox homeostasis in the mitochondria of the parasites causing malaria and toxoplasmosis
Supervisors: Dr. Lilach Sheiner and Prof. Richard Hartley
Summary: This project will develop new chemical probes to explore how the deadly malaria and toxoplasmosis parasites deal with redox insults and evaluate the potential of oxidative stress-inducing compounds as a basis for drug development. These parasites are hypersensitive to changes in their redox balance compared to their host. We showed that genetic depletion of Toxoplasma redox regulators kills the parasites and that depletion of the antioxidant lipoic acid in the malaria parasites blocks its growth in their mosquito vector. Yet it is not understood how these parasites deal with redox stress and how redox regulators function. A major cellular location that controls redox balance is the mitochondrion (the cell’s “power house”). The project will ask what is the role of the parasite mitochondrion in controlling cellular redox inside the parasite and can this sensitivity and our new compounds be leveraged to develop novel drugs?
Techniques: chemical biology synthetic chemistry computational chemistry and molecular modeling cell biology molecular biology biochemistry and chemistry lab techniques.
Our portfolio covers many aspects of parasitology research from molecules to cells and whole organisms to populations. Research activities are based around skills in molecular biology, biochemistry, immunology, epidemiology, population genetics and mathematical modelling and involve both laboratory-based projects and fieldwork.
- PhD: 3-4 years full-time; 5 years part-time;
- MSc (Research): 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time;
Parasites are fascinating organisms, because of their capacity to live and replicate within the host environment. How parasites adapt and survive is the focus of much study with the potential to generate new and important discoveries that can impact upon control. Most organisms harbor parasites and much of our research is aimed at understanding how parasites cause disease and how best to control disease in both humans and animals. Improving upon existing treatments and understanding mechanisms of drug resistance are important aspects of this work. In addition, the epidemiology, ecology and population genetics of parasitic pathogens are important areas of research that significantly impact upon transmission and control.
Our research portfolio covers a range of tropical parasites that cause important diseases, including Plasmodium ssp (malaria), Trypanosoma ssp (sleeping sickness), Leishmania ssp (leishmaniasis) and Theileria (East coast fever/theileriosis), along with filarial worms, the cause of elephantiasis. We also study parasites that are endemic in the UK such as Toxoplasma gondii and important gastro-intestinal parasites of livestock that cause significant economic loss to the agricultural industry and are important for global food security. Many important parasites are transmitted by vectors, and we have growing strengths in vector biology, most notably mosquitoes and ticks. We aim to apply our findings to informing control programmes and to translate our findings into better diagnostics, drugs and vaccines.
Students undertake individual research projects in the area of expertise of their supervisor(s), although many projects on offer are interdisciplinary.
Your choice of projects is diverse, reflecting the range of expertise of potential supervisors. The University of Glasgow provides an excellent environment for parasitology research, housing the largest group of parasitologists in the UK, studying all aspects of parasitic disease from gene to population. Parasitology is housed within two institutes, Infection, Immunity and Inflammation and Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine. In addition, many of the group are members of the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Parasitology. The resources available provide the opportunity for excellent and cutting edge training in many different areas. These include molecular biology, biochemistry, ecology, epidemiology, mathematical modelling, bioinformatics, genetics, cell biology (including advanced in vitro and in vivo imaging), immunology and polyomics (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics etc). Many projects are laboratory-based in up-to-date facilities with excellent research resources. Interdisciplinary research is a key aspect of our approach and we have many collaborators both within the university and externally. Some projects involve considerable amounts of fieldwork in the UK or overseas.
Specific areas of interest include:
- molecular basis of sexual development in Plasmodium (Waters)
- metabolism of P. falciparum (Müller)
- genetics and biology of the interactions between P. falciparum and the mosquito vector (Ranford-Cartwright)
- ecology and behaviour of malaria vectors (Ferguson)
- cellular remodelling of trypanosomes and Leishmania during their life cycles (Mottram)
- cell division in trypanosomes (Hammarton)
- homologous recombination, DNA repair pathways and antigenic variation in T. brucei (McCulloch)
- african trypanosomes and their interactions with their hosts (MacLeod)
- neuropathology of African trypanosomiasis (Rodgers, Kennedy)
- invasion of the host cell by T. gondii (Meissner)
- biogenesis of the mitochondrion and apicoplast in T. gondii (Sheiner)
- control of host cell division and parasite differentiation in Theileria (Shiels)
- immune regulation in vivo in relation to parasitic infection (Brewer, Garside)
- fitness costs of the immune response and wild immunology (Babayan)
- imaging the immune response to parasites in vivo (Brewer)
- mathematical modelling of host-parasite systems (Matthews, Stear)
- epidemiology of zoonotic pathogens in Africa (MacLeod)
- mechanisms of drug resistance (protozoan, nematode, ectoparasites) (Barrett, de Koning, Devaney, Jonsson)
- the role of membrane transporters in parasite virulence and drug susceptibility (de Koning)
- development of new lead compounds and vaccines for parasitic diseases (protozoan and nematode) (Shiels, Barrett, Page, Devaney, Britton)
- use of C. elegans as a model for understanding gene function in parasitic nematodes (Britton, Devaney, Page)
- microRNAs and their functions in parasitic nematodes (Britton, Devaney)
- 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
- BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnerships
- External funding information
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. Through their research interests in drug development, vaccines and diagnostics, many of our project supervisors have strong links with industry.
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
If you study with us, you will join a large community of postgraduate taught and research students. Our institute brings together world-leading basic, applied, clinical and translational researchers to study infection with a focus on the viral, parasitic and bacterial pathogens of both humans and animals, and immunology and inflammation with a focus on chronic inflammatory diseases.
Despite the continual development of new therapies, antibiotics and vaccines, chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases still pose persistent health threats. We aim to:
- understand the basic science of the immune systems and how the immune system can inturn affect disease outcome understand the biology of parasites, viruse and bacteria and the interactions with their hosts, that in turn leads to high levels of infectious diseases worldwide
- develop therapies (drugs and vaccines) targeted on these processes
- explore new treatments and strategies in clinical and translational medicine
- MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research
- Wellcome Centre for Integrative Parasitology
- ARUK Centre for Experimental Arthritis Research
Our excellent facilities underpin a bench to bedside approach that will equip you with training complementary to a range of career options, and you can tailor your study pathway to the precise aspects of infection and immunology that suit your objectives. Facilities include:
- core facilities in fluorescence activated cell sorting analysis
- histology and state-of-the-art imaging.
- IVIS imaging system
- high content screening microscopy
- mass spectrometry
- an X-ray capable FX Pro bioluminescence imaging system
- a protein purification service
- a wide range of molecular, immunological and biochemical analysis tools
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.
*iPhD applicants do not need to contact a supervisor, as you will start your programme by choosing a masters from our Taught degree programmes A-Z [do not apply directly to a masters].
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 [except iPhD applicants, where only one academic or professional reference is required]. 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. iPhD applicants do not need to submit any of these as you will start your programme by choosing a masters.
Notes for iPhD applicants
- add 'I wish to study the MSc in (chosen subject) as the masters taught component of the iPhD' in the research proposal box
- write 'n/a' for the supervisor name
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