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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Dissecting the role of MCE proteins in Cyanobacteria

Research environment

The School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary is one of the UK’s elite research centres, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). We offer a multi-disciplinary research environment and have approximately 160 PhD students working on projects in the biological, chemical and psychological sciences. Our students have access to a variety of research facilities supported by experienced staff, as well as a range of student support services.

The successful applicant will enter a vibrant research environment, under the supervision of Dr Vidya Darbari. The lab is well equipped to carry out all the molecular biology, biochemistry and biophysical experiments with excellent access to X-ray crystallography and TEM facilities including High-resolution Cryo-transmission electron microscopy as part of LonCEM. For details see:

Training and development

Our PhD students become part of Queen Mary’s Doctoral College which provides training and development opportunities, advice on funding, and financial support for research. Our students also have access to a Researcher Development Programme designed to help recognise and develop key skills and attributes needed to effectively manage research, and to prepare and plan for the next stages of their career.

The PhD student will use and gain expertise in structural techniques for determining high-resolution structures including X-ray crystallography and/or Cryo-Transmission Electron Microscopy. A range of biochemical and biophysical techniques will be employed for substrate binding characterisation. Molecular biology and microscopy techniques for cellular localisation will also be employed. This project will benefit from collaborations with other research teams at SBCS, QMUL including Prof. Conrad Mullineaux.

Project Details

Cyanobacteria are ancient oxygenic prokaryotes capable of harvesting solar energy for photosynthesis. They have a specialised internal membrane environment of thylakoids to host the photosynthetic machinery. MCE proteins are conserved lipid binding proteins in diderm bacteria and eukaryotic chloroplasts important for lipid transport and cell membrane homeostasis. Membrane lipid compositions effect photosynthesis and in proteobacteria MCE proteins are important for maintaining the membrane integrity by transporting phospholipids between the two membranes. In plants, the MCE proteins are involved in Phosphatidic acid transport from ER to plastids. The role of MCE proteins in cyanobacteria are poorly characterised.

Structural and Functional characterisation of Cyanobacterial MCE proteins.


Applications are invited from candidates with, or expecting to be awarded, a first class bachelors degree (or equivalent qualification) in biochemistry (or similar). International students are required to provide evidence of their proficiency in English language skills. Applicants from outside of the UK are required to provide evidence of their English language ability. Please see our entry requirements page for details:

The applicant must obtain an external source of funding.


Please complete an online application form via the following link:

If your application is successful a conditional offer dependent of obtaining external funding (in addition to any academic requirements to be met) will be made and Dr Darbari will support you with in your application for funding.

Funding Notes

This project is open to applicants intending to apply for external funding (e.g. China Scholarship Council, CONACYT, Commonwealth Scholarships). Please see our Fees and Funding page for further details on Queen Mary's international funding partners.

If you intend to apply for China Scholarship Council funding, the deadline to apply to Queen Mary is 12th January 2020.

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