MRes Project Areas 2018-19

For an overview of the MRes, entry criteria and details of how to apply, please click here. Note that MRes projects do not incur bench fees or additional costs other than the tuition fees. Edge Hill graduates might be eligible for a 50% fee reduction.

Please find information below on the MRes project areas in Biology. Please contact the supervisors directly to discuss the projects below by clicking on their name to send an e-mail. Alternatively, contact the MRes coordinator in Biology, Dr Anne Oxbrough to discuss the overall programme or proposing your own research topic.

We support MRes projects which broadly fall within the remit of our staff research interests (https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/biology/staff/), during the next academic year we are particularly interested in supporting MRes projects in the following areas:

Nanomedicine with Dr Aristides Tagalakis

Novel small molecule therapeutics to target Ocular Fibrosis

  • Development of LNP nanoparticles and sustained-release nanoparticle hydrogel formulations.
  • We will test the percentage, duration, and uniformity of release of the nanoparticles from the different drug delivery techniques. Stability and storage.
  • Target the MRTF/SRF Pathways.

Extracellular vesicles as Cancer Biomarkers

  • Isolate extracellular vesicles from healthy cell lines and different cancer cell line panels. Validate the efficacy of current extracellular vesicle isolation techniques/protocols against a new microfluidic device.
  • Establish in vitro assays for analysis and characterisation.

Novel non-viral gene therapy vectors for DNA therapeutics

  • Cutting edge vectors will be used that will bring the DNA non-viral therapeutics back to the map (International collaboration).
  • Vectorology and cell line development as models.
  • Applications to cancers and study effects.

Applicants should have a strong interest in gene therapy, good understanding of genetics, chemistry and/or pharmacology/pharmaceutics and sound laboratory skills and techniques.

Mosquito Biology and Ecology with Dr Clare Strode

  • Do modifications of the mosquito cuticle contribute to the growing problem of insecticide resistance?
  • The potential contribution of bromeliads in the spread of invasive mosquitoes species (jointly supervised with Dr. Sven Batke)

Invertebrate Ecology and Sustainable Forest Management with Dr Anne Oxbrough.

  • Saproxylic species in plantations forests: deadwood and biodiversity
  • Biodiversity in UK commercial plantation forests supporting sustainable forest management and resilience. Projects will primarily focus on invertebrates or plants, but those on microbial and fungal ecology will also be considered
  • Biodiversity of upland calcareous grassland landscapes and the impacts of grazing
  • Hedgerows as corridors for forest-associated species

Molecular Microbiology and Antibiotic Discovery with Dr. Lorena Fernández-Martínez

  • Isolation of actinomycetes from different environments to identify new species with antibiotic production potential.
  • Expression of “silent” clusters from Streptomyces species to try to activate transcription and production of antibiotic pathways.
  • Understanding the role of MIP proteins (virulence factors) in a non-pathogenic Streptomyces strain.
  • Modification of antibiotic biosynthetic clusters to increase production of natural products.

Microbial Diversity of Marine and Extreme Environments and Biotechnological Applications with Dr André Antunes.

  • Exploring diversity of extremophilic Bacteria and Archaea in unexplored and understudied extreme environments in the UK (including salt mines, brine springs and salt marshes), discovering new microbial species, and investigating physiology, phylogeny, and their potential biotechnological applications.
  • Bioprospection of extreme environments aimed at the isolation of new microbial strains with potential biotechnological relevance (e.g. production of bioplastics, selected enzymes, and antimicrobial compounds)
  • Geomicrobiology: production of biominerals by different types of microbes, the influence of environmental conditions on biomineral production, and analysis of potential biotechnological applications.

Pregnancy complications with Dr Jayne Charnock

  • Placental vascular development- the role of stem cells in the formation of the placental blood vessels.
  • Implantation- in vitro modelling of embryo attachment & the role of integrins.

Mycology with Dr Marta Simões

  • Filamentous fungal communities in complex environments (e.g. peatland bogs, salt marshes)
  • Biotechnological applications of filamentous fungi

Biochemistry with Dr Rajeev Shrivastava

  • Environmental pollution; water and soil pollution analysis
  • Nutrients in Food analysis
  • Rate of reaction and activation energy of various reactions and chemical molecules.

Rare skin disorders with Dr Katja Eckl

  • Establishment of a new, plant-cell-based mass production pipeline for protein-replacement therapy for TGM1 deficient ichthyosis patients
    1. Protein-production for pre-clinical applications
    2. Bioreactor mass-production & use of primary or modified plant cells (e.g. carrot)
    3. Preclinical drug development and testing.
  • Reduce! Refine! Replace! Advanced pigmented skin models for pharmaceutical industries – alternatives for use of animals
    1. Improve existing 3D skin models
    2. Validate models to assist marketing
  • Drug-induced epigenetic changes in ichthyosis patient cells – lessons learned from protein-replacement-therapies
    1. Study effects of protein replacement therapy for congenital ichthyosis on cells and 3D skin models
    2. Study epigenetic effects (histone modificiations & DNA modifications) caused by drug
    3. Are these changes related to drug only, or are there also significant differences between patients and healthy controls persons
  • Applicants should have a strong interest in skin research, excellent understanding of human genetics and a passion to care for those with rare diseases.

Plant Ecophysiology with Dr Sven Batke

Tropical epiphyte physiology (lab based)

      • Morphological and physiological trait relationships in tropical epiphytes
      • Linking leaf hydraulics to leaf pigmentation in bromeliads

Functional epiphyte contribution to temperate forests (field and lab based)

      • Quantifying how different species of epiphytes contribute to the total water interception capacity of a forest stand
      • Epiphytes and their microclimate – a high-resolution approach  

Ecological genetics or plant evolution with Professor Paul Ashton

  • Ecological genetics including speciation, population differentation and taxonomy, especially of the plant genera Tilia (lime) and Carex (sedges).
  • Conservation genetics of the Marsh Fritillary butterfly (Euphydryas aurinia).
  • Population genetics aspects of grassland connectivity and restoration.
  • Population genetics of deer in country parks.
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