The Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge invites applications for a Fully funded, four-year PhD studentship: Genetic interrogation of epigenetic pathways in the 2021/22 academic session.

Project details

his studentship project will explore the mechanisms through which mutations in chromatin regulators cause disease. Over half of human cancers contain mutations in chromatin regulators, but our lack of understanding of how these factors exert their function in healthy human cells hampers our ability to design optimal therapeutics. The successful candidate will undertake a four-year research project with the goal of discovering novel factors that are critical for epigenetic repression.

The project will be centered around the use of high-throughput genetic technologies to interrogate the mechanism of action of chromatin-modifying factors. You will generate fluorescent cell lines capable of reporting on the function of key repressive pathways, which you will then characterise using genome-wide CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genetic screens and other cutting-edge genetic techniques. You will first seek to understand how these factors mediate epigenetic silencing in healthy human cells, and then go on to consider how mutations in these factors might lead to dysregulation of gene expression in diseases such as cancer. At the end of the studentship you will have gained a broad range of key experimental and transferable skills, which will provide an effective springboard towards a successful research career in the biological sciences. Relevant recent publications include:

Tchasovnikarova IA et al (2015) Epigenetic silencing by the HUSH complex mediates position-effect variegation in human cells. Science, 348 (6242): 1481-5

Tchasovnikarova IA et al (2017) Hyperactivation of HUSH complex function by Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease mutation in MORC2. Nature Genetics, 49: 1035-1044 Douse CH, Tchasovnikarova IA et al (2020) TASOR is a pseudo-PARP that directs HUSH complex assembly and epigenetic transposon control. Nature Communications, 11: 4940

You will work in the Tchasovnikarova laboratory, based at the Gurdon Institute which is situated in the heart of historic Cambridge. The Gurdon is a thriving academic community which includes around 60 postgraduate students. You will also become a member of the Department of Biochemistry. Your academic and social life will be enhanced by your affiliation with Peterhouse College, through which you will have access to accommodation in central Cambridge and a wide variety of student clubs, societies and activities.

Worth of Award

  • A stipend of £18,000 per annum will be provided for 4 years with effect from 1 October 2021.
  • This funding also covers the University Composition Fee and Maintenance and an allowance for consumables.
  • The funds for this post are available for 4 years in the first instance.


  • Applicants should have or should shortly expect to obtain a minimum of a UK II.i Honours Degree (or equivalent) in the biological sciences.
  • They are looking for highly motivated, enthusiastic and industrious individuals who are capable of thinking and working independently.
  • The University requires a high level of proficiency in English.

How to Apply

  • Interested applicants should apply initially through the website provided.\
  • You will need to upload your CV (max two A4 pages), a covering letter (max one A4 page) and your official degree transcript(s), and provide full contact details for two academic referees.
  • Please quote reference PR25362 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

Deadline: The closing date for applications is February 7, 2021. Interviews will be held in late February/early March.

Click here for more details and to apply