University of Dundee

Finding the eat-me signals

The Ganley lab is interested in unravelling the molecular mechanism of autophagy (which literally translates from the Greek meaning to eat oneself). Autophagy functions to clear the cell of potentially damaging agents, such as protein aggregates or faulty mitochondria, as well as acting as a recycling station to supply essential building blocks during periods of starvation. The autophagy field is a rapidly growing area of research, one of the reasons being that it is dysregulated in many diseases and therefore its modulation could lead to novel therapies. To enable this, we first need to understand the machinery involved. A project is available to decipher the signals that lead to the specific autophagy of mitochondria (termed mitophagy), a process that has been linked to Parkinson’s disease and cancer. Following up on recently published work (see McWilliams et al., 2018, Cell Metabolism), the project will utilise state-of-the-art microscopy, protein biochemistry and high-throughput screening to identify phosphorylation and ubiquitylation events involved in capturing mitochondria for degradation.

At the MRC PPU, as well as the possibility of a PhD in one particular lab, we offer the possibility of two 4.5-month rotations in labs of their choice. A range of other projects from MRC PPU scientists are advertised on this website. Rotations provide valuable experience and help with deciding on the choice of PhD project and research group.

To apply, please send a CV with contact details of three referees to and a cover letter explaining why you have chosen to apply to MRC PPU to mrcppu-phd-admin@dundee.ac..uk. The closing date for the first round of applications is March 31st, with interviews in April.

Eligibility