How life emerged from mixtures of molecules remains one of the great scientific mysteries. Exchange of functional molecules must have played a central role. As a PhD candidate, you will develop different primitive cells and study how they interact, exchange pieces of genetic material and work together, to understand how complex living cells could have evolved.
Are you curious about how life could have started on our planet? Are you fascinated by bioinspired artificial cells built from simple chemicals? Are you interested in the chemistry of self-organisation, self-replication and communication? As a PhD candidate, you will aim to understand how functional primitive cells in the form of coacervates and liposomes interact with one another and host key biochemical processes, such as RNA replication and catalysis. The ultimate goal is to develop a method to transfer pieces of genetic material from one primitive cell to another to enable their growth, replication and evolution.
This research combines peptide and RNA chemistry with physical chemical techniques to create and analyse lipid vesicles and coacervate droplets; self-assembled structures will be analysed by advanced fluorescence microscopy techniques, including FRET, FRAP and RICS. You will communicate your findings through peer-reviewed journals and at international conferences. You will also be involved in teaching and training BSc and MSc students (up to 10% of your appointment).
Project Details: This PhD position is funded by an HFSP Early Career Research Grant entitled ‘Crossing the barrier: horizontal gene transfer in synergistic protocells’; the project involves a collaboration with Prof. Derek O’Flaherty (University of Guelph, CA) and Prof. Claudia Bonfio (ISIS, University of Strasbourg, FR). You will become part of an international team of young researchers working in synergy to tackle related questions.
You can apply until 31 August 2022 through the link below!
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