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PhD opportunities

PhD projects in the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences become available all year round. You can browse through the current opportunities in each of our research centres below, alongside faculty projects offered through funded studentship schemes.

When you find a project of interest, your first step is to contact the first supervisor named in the project description by email to discuss before submitting an application. Deadlines and full details of how to apply are specified in the project descriptions.

 

PhD opportunities with the Centre for Craniofacial & Regenerative Biology

Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD) is the 3rd most common muscle dystrophy leading to progressive muscle weakness of facial, shoulder and limb muscles and so impairing quality of life. This project aims to create an animal model to study how the FSHD disease protein, DUX4, affects muscle stem cells and immune cells during regeneration and screen for drugs that can overcome its affects. A zebrafish FSHD model will be created using molecular genetics techniques and cell behaviour observed during muscle regeneration by laser microscopy to reveal why muscle atrophies as a consequence of DUX4 activity. This FSHD animal model will then be used to screen drugs approved for human use to identify those that are able to enhance muscle health and so could be of potential benefit to FSHD patients.

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An ERC-funded research project which aims to investigate the mechanisms activated by the interaction of cells with nanomaterials and leverage them to control the intracellular fate of the cargo. The work follows up on research on the biointerface of nanoneedles for drug delivery outlined in Chiappini et al. Nat Mater 2015, Chiappini et al. ACS Nano 2015, Gopal et al. Adv Mater 2019.

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At the Centre for Craniofacial and Regenerative Biology at King’s College London, a prestigious European Research Counsel (ERC) funded vacancy exists for a PhD student.

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Sense organs are essential for communication with our environment providing visual, auditory and olfactory input. Among the most common birth defects, are craniofacial malformations often associated with sensory defects, while age-related loss of vision, smell and hearing is increasingly common in the ageing population.

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There are three unique features common to all vertebrates: the vertebral column, the brain as part of the nervous system and a complex head where sense organs became concentrated.

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One of the key questions in biology is to uncover how cells with the same genomic information become different from each other. This is not only important to understand embryo development, but also to determine what goes wrong in disease, how we can use this information to promote tissues regeneration or to reprogram cells for stem cell-based therapies.

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The evolution of the incredibly complex jaw apparatus of snakes allows many species to consume prey much larger than themselves. This study explores the development, structure and function of two lower jaw specialisations unique to most snake species, namely the free mandibular symphysis and the intramandibular hinge joint.

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Hearing as one of the five human senses plays a crucial role in our quality of life and integration into society, impacting on speech and language skills. Congenital hearing loss has been estimated to occur at an incidence of 1 in 1000 births, and as such has a major impact on the life of many children.

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When dentine and underlying odontoblasts are damaged, a repair process is initiated that involves the recruitment of cells from the pulp. We have identified a specific cell homing process whereby the progeny of mesenchymal stem cells migrate towards sites of tooth damage.

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The project involves a collaboration with Todd Streelman (Geogia Tech, USA) who uses genetic analysis to identify gene loci involved in tooth replacement in Lake Malawi cichlid fishes.

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PhD opportunities with the Centre for Host-Microbiome Interactions

The maintenance of intestinal homeostasis depends on the interactions between several compartments including the gut epithelium, the intestinal microbiota and the gut-associated immune system. Disrupting this delicate balance results in intestinal inflammation, which is associated with several diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. The overall aim of this project is to identify key pathways responsible for the crosstalk between intestinal epithelial cells, lymphocytes and bacteria in the context on intestinal associated diseases. IBD patients have alterations in the composition of their gut microbiota, with less diversity and accumulation of pathogenic strains. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms associated with such changes are still being elucidate and using our novel reductionist system we aim to pinpoint the effect of specific bacteria on the epithelial and immune compartments.

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The maintenance of intestinal homeostasis depends on the interactions between several compartments including the gut epithelium, the intestinal microbiota and the gut-associated immune system. Disrupting this delicate balance results in intestinal inflammation, which is associated with several diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. The overall aim of this project is to identify key pathways responsible for the crosstalk between intestinal epithelial cells and lymphocytes in the context on intestinal associated diseases. We are particularly interested in exploring non-classical roles of Innate Lymphoid Cells, which we have recently identified (Jowett et al, under revision), in the promotion of intestinal epithelial cell regeneration and in the development of intestinal fibrosis.

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Candida albicans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that causes superficial and life-threatening infections in humans. During mucosal infection, C. albicans undergoes a morphological transition from yeast (commensal) to invasive filamentous hyphae (pathogen) that damage host tissue. Current research demonstrates that the invasive hyphae of C. albicans use multiple virulence factors to cause disease in the human host. While studies demonstrate that C. albicans mutants unable to produce either Als3p, candidalysin or Sap2p exhibit diminished pathogenicity, we hypothesise that removal of all three factors may render C. albicans avirulent during both mucosal and systemic infection. This proposal will investigate the combined role of C. albicans Als3p, candidalysin and Sap2p during fungal infection of human epithelial cells.

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Pathogenic fungi kill an estimated 1.2 million people every year. The global incidence of life-threatening fungal infections is rising, and the threat to public health from drug resistant isolates and emerging pathogens such as Candida auris is serious and growing. However, despite the global impact of fungal diseases on human health, little is known about the virulence factors that drive pathogenesis. Recently, we discovered that the fungal pathogen Candida albicans secretes a peptide virulence factor called candidalysin, the first cytolytic toxin identified in a fungal pathogen of humans. Using a bespoke computational algorithm to screen 350 fungal genomes, we have identified 219 new putative toxins in 37 different species of medically relevant fungal pathogens. We hypothesize that some of these molecules are likely to be novel virulence factors that promote fungal pathogenicity and disease progression. Toxins associated with fungi that pose the greatest threat to human health will be prioritised for analysis. This research project will use biological, cellular, immunological and biophysical techniques to characterise the role of selected toxins in fungal pathogenicity.

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Periodontal Infectogenomics studies how host genetic variants can affect the composition of the subgingival biofilm. The aim of this PhD is to test the effect of specific host genetic variants on periodontal inflammation and microbial growth in gingivitis and periodontitis. This PhD will be based on a clinical trial on experimental gingivitis in patients with different host genetic variants identified as predisposing to ‘gingival hyper-inflammation’. Identified genetic variants and microbes will be tested in replication cohorts.

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The newly formed Systems Medicine lab at the Centre for Host-Microbiome Interactions develops Genome-scale metabolic models (GEMs) as well as Integrated biological networks (INs) for human cells/tissues to study the interactions between the host tissues and microbiome.

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The fungus Candida albicans is the most pathogenic of the Candida species because it forms highly penetrative hyphal filaments that induce strong mucosal inflammatory responses and tissue damage.

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Candida albicans is the most common fungal pathogen in humans and causes mucosal (oral, vaginal) and life-threatening systemic infections. C. albicans is pathogenic because it forms highly penetrative hyphal filaments that induce strong inflammatory responses and tissue damage.

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PhD opportunities with the Centre for Dental Education

Clinical skills are taught using different task-trainer simulators such as manikin heads which are typical technologies used in many educational institutions.

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Dental professionals and students have a responsibility to behave professionally both online and offline.

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Dental professionals and students have a responsibility to behave professionally both online and offline. However, guidance given by professional bodies focuses only on using social media.

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MRC Doctoral Training Partnership projects