Development of novel models of kidney damage using induced human pluripotent stem cells


Funded Opportunity


Project Description

A 3-year PhD studentship is available with Dr. Derek Brazil and Dr. Andriana Margariti at the Wellcome Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine (WWIEM) at Queen’s University Belfast.

The project will focus on using human induced pluripotent (iPS) stem cells to develop 3D kidney organoids in vitro. These organoids or “mini-kidneys” will be exploited to model diabetic kidney injury using a range of in vitro insults. In particular, the role of Gremlin1, a key regulator of diabetic kidney disease, will be assessed using overexpression/knockdown strategies. The student will develop expertise in range of in vitro techniques, including iPS stem cell culture, kidney organoid generation, confocal microscopy, single cell sequencing, histology, and CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing, together with routine molecular and cell biology techniques.

The student will be part of an active research team at the WWIEM, a £32 million state-of-the-art facility with over 250 basic science and clinical researchers. This project is ideally suited to a highly ambitious, motivated student who wishes to work in the area of stem cell/organoid biology, which is emerging as an area of research with exciting potential in the biomedical/drug discovery field. This prestigious studentship is funded by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in research (NC3Rs) and will involve close collaboration with colleagues in the UCD Conway Institute in Dublin.


*FUNDING CONFIRMED – NC3Rs Training Grant*

Eligibility for both fees (£4,260 for 2018/19) and maintenance (£14,777 for 2018/19) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK resident or those EU residents who have lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship.

If a student is from an EU country, but cannot demonstrate a relevant connection to the UK through ordinary residence, they may be eligible for a Studentship for tuition fees, but not for a maintenance stipend.

Entry Requirements 

Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

The English Language Unit (ELU) offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained from the ELU


Dr D Brazil
Dr A Margariti

Closing Date

Closing date for application is: 31 January 2019


How to Apply

Please refer to 'Entry Requirements' for specific admissions criteria.

Apply online via the Queen's on-line application portal .  Guidance is available on the University’s Prospective Student pages.

When applying for a project, please choose ‘MEDICINE’ as your subject area/School.

Please ensure you adhere to the closing dates.

If you have any further queries please contact:  or +44 (0) 28 9097 2619/2042.



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