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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Precision Medicine: Chromosomal Instability Variants in Evolutionarily Conserved Protein Domains

We are seeking applicants for the following PhD opportunity. The successful applicant will join a student cohort in Environment, Biodiversity and Genomics, training together, following an exciting programme designed to inspire the next generation of environmental experts, managers and leaders. They will be equipped to address some of the toughest challenges of our time.

Research environment

The School of Biological and Behavioural 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 150 PhD students working on projects in the biological 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.

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.

This emerging area of research requires cross-disciplinary skills: the student will receive training in combining cell biology (Super-resolution microscopy), molecular biology (plasmid subcloning), biochemistry (protein purification and interaction) and evolutionary biology (bioinformatics) methods. To perform image or bioinformatic analysis, the student may write their own software codes or use existing commercial softwares. The student will be trained to work with human cells and annelid embryos.

Project description

Over one million individuals are part of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) worldwide. Equally large efforts to sequence the genomes of all species in the planet (e.g.Earth BioGenome Project) have expanded the resources for evolutionary comparisons between humans and other animals. Taking advantage of these growing resources and emerging ‘omics’ methods, we aim to predict, classify and identify genetic variants that promote chromosomal instability - a phenotype linked to infertility, cancers and premature ageing.

The student will screen through genomic databases for pathogenic variants in microtubule or chromosome-associated genes and introduce these variants into human cells and annelin embryos to assess their impact on cell division using microscopy or biochemistry. By expanding our knowledge of cell division regulation, the project will advance our molecular understanding of human ageing and take us a step closer to precision medicine.


This studentship is open to students applying for China Scholarship Council funding. Queen Mary University of London has partnered with the China Scholarship Council (CSC) to offer a joint scholarship programme to enable Chinese students to study for a PhD programme at Queen Mary. Under the scheme, Queen Mary will provide scholarships to cover all tuition fees, whilst the CSC will provide living expenses for 4 years and one return flight ticket to successful applicants. 

Eligibility and applying

Applicants must:

  • Be Chinese students with a strong academic background.
  • Students must hold a PR Chinese passport.
  • Applicants can either be resident in China at the time of application or studying overseas. 
  • Students with prior experience of studying overseas (including in the UK) are eligible to apply. Chinese QMUL graduates/Masters’ students are therefore eligible for the scheme.

Please refer to the CSC website for full details on eligibility and conditions on the scholarship.

Applications are invited from outstanding candidates with or expecting to receive a first or upper-second class honours degree in an area relevant to the project Biomedical Sciences, Biology, Bioengineering, Medicine or allied fields. A masters degree is desirable, but not essential. Molecular or Cell biology research experience is essential. Some coding experience is desirable.

Applicants are required to provide evidence of their English language ability. Please see our English language requirements page for details.

The deadline for applications to Queen Mary is 30th January 2022. Applicants will need to complete an online application form by this date to be considered, including a CV, personal statement and qualifications. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for a formal interview by the project supervisor. Those who are successful in their application for our PhD programme will be issued with an offer letter which is conditional on securing a CSC scholarship (as well as any academic conditions still required to meet our entry requirements).

Once applicants have obtained their offer letter from Queen Mary they should then apply to CSC for the scholarship by the advertised deadline with the support of the project supervisor. For September 2022 entry, applicants must complete the CSC application on the CSC website between 10th March - 31st March 2022.

Only applicants who are successful in their application to CSC can be issued an unconditional offer and enrol on our PhD programme.

Apply Online


  • Song X, Conti D & Draviam VM Counteraction of Astrin and CDK1 preserves mono-oriented attachments independent of biorientation, (Nature Communications 2021, 20 (7010) 1-16).
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  • Conti D, Gul P, Islam A, Martin J, Pickersgill R & Draviam VM. Kinetochores attached to MT-ends are stabilised by Astrin:PP1 for proper chromosome segregation (eLife 2019 e49325). 
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