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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Protein Misfolding and Assembly of Amyloid-beta and lipid membrane interactions in Alzheimer’s Disease

Supervisor: Dr John Viles

About the Project

Worldwide, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. The disease is characterised by the accumulation of a small neuro-toxic peptide, amyloid-beta (Aβ) which forms fibrous plaques within the brain. The early stages of the amyloid cascade are characterised by the self-association of Aβ peptide into toxic oligomers and protofibrils, which then convert to mature amyloid fibrils. Although the link between amyloid-beta peptide and Alzheimer’s disease is clear, the nature of the toxic form of Aβ and the mechanism of toxicity is not well understood.

You will therefore investigate the fundamental process of Aβ misfolding and self-association of Aβ peptide along with its interaction with lipid membranes.

Methods and Training

The PhD student will use and gain expertise in a range of imaging, biophysical and spectroscopic techniques (TEM, Florescence, CD, NMR, AFM) to probe the structure and assembly of Aβ and its interaction with lipid bilayers. The neurotoxic action of Aβ oligomers will be studied using a range of approaches, including: a vesicle model of membrane permeability, cell viability and ion channel conductance.

Environment and Support

Queen Mary University of London is a member of the Russell group of leading research focused institutions in the UK. The successful applicant will enter a vibrant research environment, under the supervision of Dr John H Viles. The lab is well equipped to carry out all the biophysical measurements outlined with excellent TEM and NMR facilities. With an outstanding track record in PhD student supervision. All past PhD student have submitted in four years and have generated high impact first author publications.

Dr John H. Viles is an Associate Professor in Biochemistry.
For details see Dr Viles' profile page.


Applications are invited from candidates with, or expecting to be awarded, at least an upper-second class BSc (or equivalent qualification) in an area of biochemical sciences, although a Masters is preferable. International students are required to provide evidence of their proficiency in English language skills. Please see our entry requirements page for details. International students are required to provide evidence of their proficiency in English language skills. Please see our entry requirements page for details.

The applicant must obtain an external source of funding.


Contact Dr Viles with a short E-mail, include the following:

1) Indicate the funding scheme you intend to apply, for which you are eligible.

2) Attach a two-page CV. Indicate any English Language qualifications you have and include Skype/MS-Team/whats-app contact details.

You may then wish to complete an online application form via the following link.

If your application is successful a conditional offer dependent of obtaining external funding will be made and Dr Viles will support you with in your application for funding and research proposal.

Funding Notes

This project is open to applicants intending to personally apply for external funding. Offers made by Queen Mary will be conditional on you being successful in applying for external funding. For example, you may directly apply to: CONACYT (Mexico), Commonwealth Scholarships, Higher Education Commission (Pakistan). Please only apply if you are eligible through one of these schemes.

UK students should apply for PhD studentships that already have funding linked with them. If I am successful with ongoing grant applications, I will advertise the funded studentship separately, I currently have no funded PhD studentships available.

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