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Research Opportunities

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Prospective Students

The goal of the NIH Oxford-Cambridge (OxCam) Scholars Program is to create, foster, and advance unique and collaborative research opportunities between NIH laboratories and laboratories at the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge. Each OxCam Scholar develops a collaborative research project that will constitute his/her doctoral training. Each Scholar also select two mentors – one at the NIH and one in the UK – who work together to guide the Scholar throughout the research endeavor.

Students may select from two categories of projects: Self-designed or Prearranged. OxCam Scholars may create a self-designed project, which enables students to develop a collaborative project tailored to his/her specific scientific interests by selecting one NIH mentor and one UK mentor with expertise in the desired research area(s). Alternatively, students may select a prearranged project provided by NIH and/or UK Investigator(s) willing to mentor an OxCam Scholar in their lab.

Self-designed Projects: Students may create a novel (or de novo) project based on their unique research interests. Students have the freedom to contact any PI at NIH or at Oxford or Cambridge to build a collaboration from scratch. The NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) represents a community of approximately 1,200 tenured and tenure-track investigators providing a wealth of opportunity to explore a wide variety of research interests. Students may visit https://irp.nih.gov to identify NIH PIs performing research in the area of interest. For additional tips on choosing a mentor, please visit our Training Plan.

Prearranged Projects: Investigators at NIH or at Oxford or Cambridge have voluntarily offered collaborative project ideas for NIH OxCam Scholars. These projects are provided below and categorized by research area, NIH Institute/Center, and University. In some cases, a full collaboration with two mentors is already in place. In other instances, only one PI is identified, which allows the student to select a second mentor to complete the collaboration. Please note that prearranged project offerings are continuously updated throughout the year and are subject to change.

2 Search Results

431
Category:
Structural Biology
Project:

Self-assembling multi-functional biomolecular condensates for targeted degradation of disease-associated proteins 

Project Listed Date:
Institute or Center:
N/A
NIH Mentor:
N/A
University:
Cambridge
Project Details:

We are developing artificial multi-valent proteins capable of liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) with the aim of building multi-functional biomolecular condensates and thereby harnessing specific cellular enzymes to target disease-associated proteins for destruction. We propose to design condensates that contain a class of proteins known as tandem-repeat proteins (RPs). We have shown that RPs are strikingly amenable to rational design and can be engineered to simultaneously bind multiple proteins, bringing them into specific spatial proximity in such a way as to enable a chemical modification of the target protein. The rational design of LLPS systems capable of selectively recruiting client proteins into them to drive specific biological reactions would enable both a deeper understanding of the role of biomolecular condensates in nature as well as the exploitation of their remarkable physico-chemical properties for therapeutic effect. 

Key areas of interest include: 
 

  1. Understanding the molecular grammar of protein phase separation to define rules for creating designer LLPS systems. 
  1. Developing novel hetero-bifunctional phase-separating proteins to recruit disease-associated targets to the protein degradation machinery. 
  1. Translating the designed LLPS proteins into biomolecular condensates in the cell capable of enhancing targeted protein degradation. 
414
Category:
Structural Biology
Project:

Structure-function studies of bacterial cell envelope machines involved in pathogenesis

Project Listed Date:
Institute or Center:
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
NIH Mentor:

Dr. Susan Lea

UK Mentor:

Prof. Ben Berks

University:
Oxford
Project Details:

The bacterial cell envelope comprises the cell wall and either one or two membranes. The cell envelope is of major interest in infection biology because it is the site at which pathogenic bacteria interact with their host organism. In particular, bacterial virulence proteins must be transported across the cell envelope to affect the host.

We aim to understand the molecular mechanisms by which proteins, nucleic acids, and mechanical force are transferred across and along the cell envelope in processes of biomedical importance. The project is to undertake structure-led studies of  the dedicated nanomachines that carry out these processes. The NCI part of the collaboration will involve structural analysis, primarily by cryoEM. The Oxford part of the collaboration will concentrate on complementary mechanistic work using biochemical, genetic, and live cell single molecule imaging methods. Our groups  have collaborated for more than 15 years on projects including the transport of folded proteins across the bacterial inner and outer membranes (Tat protein transport system and Type 9 Secretion System), lipoprotein export, DNA transport during horizontal gene transfer (conjugation and natural competence), and gliding motility.

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