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Genomics of Human Endothelial Cell Function in Chronic Disease

About this project

This cluster of three interlinked projects will be focussed on defining the molecular mechanisms and signalling pathways that regulate human endothelial cell function in chronic diseases following our recent discoveries at the University of Hull. The key pathologies to be studied are therapy-resistant cancers and cardiovascular disease. This research initiative involves eight academics with research expertise in basic cell biology, clinical research, oncology and respiratory/cardiovascular disease. The goal of this collaborative network is to establish novel genomic and proteomic big data pipeline that can be used by the global scientific community to decipher human endothelial cell biology in chronic diseases for their improved diagnosis and treatment. 

Three projects offer prospective students an opportunity to work within an interactive and dynamic environment at the School of Life Sciences and the Hull-York Medical School, which house state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and resources for undertaking biomedical research. Students will receive training in laboratory techniques such as confocal microscopy, protein biochemistry, immunohistochemistry, RNAi-mediated gene knockdown, whole genome analysis and clinically relevant three-dimensional models of human endothelial cell function in chronic diseases. They will also use the University of Hull High Performance Computer VIPER (largest supercomputer in the North of England) and big data computational approaches, including bioinformatics, and become part of a wider collaborative network that involves researchers based at the University of Oxford and University College London. The generous research budget to cover laboratory costs (£9000) and opportunities to travel for collaborations and other meetings or conferences will be provided in addition to the stipend to all three successful candidates.

The University of Hull offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a three-year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant research community and will be supervised by the experts in the fields of cancer and cardiovascular biology, as well as supported by the rest of the Cluster members. Three PhD students will become members of our rapidly expanding postgraduate community of next generation researchers, and supported by regular laboratory meetings, seminars and journal clubs. All students will undertake a three-month professional start-up training at the beginning of their study. The PhD scholarship scheme and three projects offer exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by the supervisors and the cluster advisory committee.  

Genomics of human endothelial cell function in chronic disease.

Supervisors: Dr Katharina C Wollenberg Valero or Dr Leonid Nikitenko.

Endothelial cells play a key role in the physiology of every single organ in human body and in the pathogenesis of several chronic diseases. This research project will combine in vitro and in silico approaches, including human cell biology, genomics and bioinformatics techniques to understand molecular mechanisms underlying endothelial cell function in cancer and cardiovascular disease. This studentship constitutes a key position within the Cluster. This research project will combine insights from cell culture experiments utilising primary human endothelial cells isolated from blood and lymphatic vessels, with the generation and analysis of gene expression using microchip and next generation sequencing technologies.  

The PhD student will analyse our expanding library of gene expression datasets and generate novel ones. They will develop expertise in biomedical data science through laboratory work and bioinformatics, learning career-relevant skills and techniques. Bioconductor will be used as the industry standard for biomedical analysis of genomic, transcriptomic and array data. This PhD scholarship offers exciting and invaluable work experience aimed at enhancing professional development of the individual with an expertise in human cell biology and an interest in genomics and bioinformatics. The successful candidate will receive extensive training in the three challenges of big data science related to this project (data flow, data analysis, and data curation) via visits to University College London Cancer Institute and Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford, conference/workshop participation, as well as supervision by the support team of the University of Hull’s VIPER high performance computer and UCL bio(medical)informatics team.


You are strongly advised to contact a supervisor and to discuss your research proposal, well before you submit an application. Please refer to the Faculty of Health Sciences research pages.

For further information regarding this project please contact Dr Katharina C Wollenberg Valero or Dr Leonid Nikitenko.


Next steps


To celebrate the University's research successes, the University of Hull is offering a full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarship or International Fees Bursary.

Entry requirements

Applicants with at least an upper 2nd class honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent, in cell or molecular biology and/or vascular biology (or related discipline) and/or bioinformatics, together with relevant research experience, are encouraged to apply. It is anticipated that the successful applicant will have a 1st class honours undergraduate degree or Masters level qualification. 

How to apply

Applications for scholarship consideration at the University of Hull should be made through the Postgraduate Application system.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to first identify and contact a potential supervisor.

Apply now

Application deadline: Monday 19 February


Full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarships will include fees at the ‘home/EU' student rate and maintenance (£14,553 in 2017/18) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.

Full-time International Fee PhD Studentships will include full fees at the International student rate for three years, dependent on satisfactory progress.