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Randall Division of Cell & Molecular Biophysics

Microsoft Research PhD scholarship on Computational Algorithms as Biological Regulatory Network

Research division: Randall Division of Cell and Molecular Biophysics in collaboration with the Institute of Mathematical and Molecular Biosciences
First supervisor: Attila Csikasz-Nagy
Second supervisor: Luca Cardello FRS, Microsoft Research and University of Oxford
Sponsor: Microsoft Research
Duration: 3 years
Study mode: Full time
Eligibility: Home/EU students only
Stipend: CORRECTION the stipend rate will be £15,863 per annum
Start date:1 October 2014
Application closing date: 15 May 2014
Reference: 14/RDCMB/S04

Project description:

A fully funded Microsoft Research PhD scholarship is available in the lab of Attila Csikasz-Nagy at King’s College London to work in collaboration with Luca Cardelli from Microsoft Research on a project crossing the boundaries between computer science and systems biology. A related publication can be found here.  

Evolution selected for biological network designs that are capable of fast and proper responses to inputs. Computing is also designed to handle tasks in a fast and precise way. The efficiency of biological systems is often copied when designing biologically inspired tools (evolutionary algorithms, machine learning, and so forth). The supervisor of this project, in collaboration with Luca Cardelli, investigated the similarities between a cell cycle regulatory switch and the Approximate Majority (AM) algorithm of distributed computing. The AM algorithm computes the majority of two finite populations and the cell cycle switch ensures that cells divide only after DNA replication is finished. The functions of the two switches differ but their dynamical behaviour is similar. The project goes further to investigate how biological regulatory systems can be converted to computational algorithms and how algorithms can provide us hints about non-clearly understood biological systems.

Eligibility criteria

Applications are open to Home/EU candidates only.

Applicant details

An MSc or in rare cases a BSc in Computer Science/ Bioinformatics/Biology/Physics/Applied Mathematics or related fields is required.

For candidates coming from more computing or theory an extensive knowledge of biology is required. For candidates coming from a Biology background, we require excellent analytical and programming experience.
How to apply

Applicants should apply using the King's online application form.

Please ensure in the Research Proposal section to add 'Dr Csikasz-Nagy' in the supervisor's 'Name' field and quote the reference '14/RDCMB/S04' in the field 'brief synopsis of our research proposal'. Please also state the project title, 'Microsoft Research PhD scholarship on Computational Algorithms as Biological Regulatory Network' where requested.

When completing the application form please do the following to ensure that you apply for the right programme/studentship:

  • Under 'type of programme' choose 'Research degrees'
  • Enter 'Molecular Biophysics' in the keyword box and click 'search'
  • From the list displayed select 'Randall Division of Cell & Molecular Biophysics' MPhil/PhD (full-time)'

Please include a copy of your CV, two references and a statement indicating why you are interested in this project with your application.

IMPORTANT Please ensure that you quote the reference 14/RDCMB/S04 under 'research proposal' and specify Dr Csikasz-Nagy as the supervisor. Please also quote the reference 14/RDCMB/S04 in the funding section under question 4d.

The deadline for applications is Thursday 15 May 2013.


For further information on this studentship opportunity, please contact the first supervisor, Attila Csikasz-Nagy.

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