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MRC WIMM PRIZE STUDENTSHIPS 2023 The new admissions cycle for entry in 2023 is now open.

Two women talking.

Chapman Group - Homologous recombination in genome maintenance and cancer prevention (Funding available)

The goal of this project is to investigate how tumour suppressor proteins including BRCA1 and ATM control the repair of DNA strand breaks, and better define their context and tissue specific function in proliferating and non-dividing cells. This will involve a combination of molecular cell biology, molecular genetics and biochemical approaches. The project will also involve genomics and cutting-edge genome editing technologies, such as targeted and screening applications of the CRISPR-Cas9 system. Where appropriate, mouse models will be used to define the physiological purpose of this biology, and the tissue and context-specific consequences of its inactivation or dysfunction in human disease and cancer.

Chakraverty Group - Design of advanced haematopoietic stem cell and T cell therapies (Funding Available)

This is an exciting opportunity for a highly motivated graduates to join a new DPhil research programme in Oxford, the NIHR-funded Blood & Transplant Research Unit (BTRU) in Precision Cellular Therapeutics.

Davis Group - Therapeutic opportunities emerging from studies of immune checkpoints

Our focus has been on the cell biology of the T-cell surface. We developed general methods for crystallizing glycoproteins and determined the structures of key T-cell surface proteins including the first adhesion protein (CD2) and its ligand CD58, the costimulatory receptor CD28 and its ligand CD80, the large tyrosine phosphatase CD45, and most recently a ligand-bound T-cell receptor (TCR). We also worked out how weak, specific recognition is achieved by these types of proteins and obtained the first insights into the overall composition of the T-cell surface. Most importantly we proposed, with PA van der Merwe, one of the most complete and best-supported explanations for leukocyte receptor triggering, called the kinetic-segregation model (

Drakesmith Group - Iron and Immunity

We study how iron and anaemia influence immunity and infectious diseases. Our research inspires therapies that control iron physiology to improve immunity, combat infections and treat disorders of iron metabolism. We work across the disciplines of immunology, haematology and global health, utilising in vitro, in vivo and human studies, and collaborate extensively to translate our mechanistic discoveries into clinically relevant progress.

Goriely Group - Clinical Genetics

De novo mutations (DNMs) are a significant contributor to human disease, affecting ~1:300 new births. We study the mechanisms by which these spontaneous mutations arise in the first instance, concentrating on the tissue where most originate, the human testis. We aim to understand why some pathogenic mutations arise more frequently than others and how the mechanisms regulating the production of sperm influences this process.

Higgs Group - Laboratory of Gene Regulation

Our laboratory is interested in the general question of how mammalian genes are switched on and off during lineage commitment and differentiation. We use the most recent genomics technologies and computational approaches to study both the entire genome and individual genes in detail. We study all aspects of gene expression including the key cis-regulatory elements (enhancers, promoters and insulators), the transcription factors and co-factors that bind them, the epigenetic modifications of chromatin and DNA, and the role of associated phenomena such as chromosome conformation and nuclear sub-compartmentalisation using state-of-the-art imaging techniques. These studies are performed both in cell systems and in model organisms as well as in material from human patients with various inherited and acquired, genetic and epigenetic abnormalities. The translational goal of our work is to develop new ways to modify gene expression during blood formation with the aim of manipulating gene expression and ameliorating the clinical phenotypes of patients with a variety of blood disorders.

Koohy Group - Applications of multi-omics and AI to better understand T cell immunity and antigen-specificity

An effective T cell response is orchestrated upon T cell recognition of MHC-presented antigens on the surface of infected cells or specialized antigen-presenting cells. A deeper understanding of the rules underpinning T cells recognition of antigens would allow further harnessing of the adaptive T cell immunity and may lead to the development of new personalized vaccines and other immunotherapeutic strategies. The research interests in the Koohy’s group are focused on development of machine-learning and statistical model to help us better understand the grammar of adaptive T cell immunity. Here are a few examples showcasing a few active research projects:

Mead Group - Haematopoietic Stem Cell Biology

The overarching focus of my research group is to characterise genetic and cellular heterogeneity in myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) with the ultimate goal to improve the diagnosis, risk-stratification and treatment of these largely incurable forms of blood cancer.

Twigg/Wilkie Group - Building the skull – normal and abnormal development

Using a combination of patient samples and mouse models, we study the causes and developmental origins of skull malformation. The work ranges from screening human DNA for new mutations, to use of genome editing and single cell transcriptomics to model the developmental causes of these malformations in mice. Projects on offer would particularly appeal to students interested in genetics, genomics and developmental mechanisms and for whom clinical application is a key motivator. There will be particular opportunities to learn core bioinformatics skills, perform single cell analysis, and use genome editing to generate and characterise mouse models to understand disease mechanisms.