University of Dundee

Cunningham Trust PhD Studentship: Fishing up human chromosomes in early mitosis – a novel mechanism preventing chromosome instability

Professor Tomo Tanaka is inviting applications from bright and enthusiastic graduates for a fully-funded 3-year PhD studentship. The studentship is supported by the Cunningham Trust and will start in September 2020. The Tanaka lab is based at the Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression within the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee, UK ( His group has been studying mechanisms of high-fidelity chromosome segregation in mitosis. The successful candidate will receive world-class training in state-of-art technologies in cell and molecular biology. The student will be co-supervised by Professor Kees Weijer, a renowned expert of light sheet microscopy.

This PhD project will focus on mechanisms ensuring chromosome interaction with the mitotic spindle in human cells. To maintain genetic integrity, human cells must inherit a complete set of chromosomes after cell division. Errors in this process cause cell death and various human diseases such as cancer. The research goal of the Tanaka lab is to understand the mechanisms ensuring accurate chromosome inheritance when cells divide. These mechanisms involve how chromosomes efficiently and correctly interact with a cellular apparatus called the mitotic spindle that subsequently moves chromosomes into the new daughter cells. In particular, the initial encounter between chromosomes and the mitotic spindle is crucial as it often becomes a rate-limiting step to ensure correct chromosome inheritance.

In this research project, a PhD student will study a novel mechanism facilitating the initial encounter between chromosomes and the mitotic spindle, and address how its defect causes errors in chromosome inheritance that are often associated with cancer cells. To examine this process in detail, the student will learn and use advanced methods in cell biology, microscopy and molecular genetics. The results of this research project should help us understand how errors in chromosome inheritance occur, how such errors lead to generation of cancer and how errors could be avoided.

Candidates with any nationality are eligible to apply. Candidates should have an excellent academic track record with at least 2:1 level or equivalent in Bachelor of Science or related degree. Preferable candidate will have strong knowledge in cell and molecular biology and plenty of laboratory experience. Excellent skills in English and communication are essential. Informal inquiries can be sent to

Deadline for applications to be received:  31st March 2020