2020 applicants
Postgraduate Research Opportunity

Molecular mechanisms of blindness resulting from Retinitis Pigmentosa mutations in the visual receptor rhodopsin


Title: Molecular mechanisms of blindness resulting from retinitis pigmentosa mutations in the visual receptor rhodopsin

Funding: Full time Home/EU fees and a stipend of £15,009 p.a.

Application deadline: 22 November 2019

Start date: January 2020

Duration: 3 years (full time)

Location: Colchester Campus

Based in: School of Life Sciences


We are inviting applications from highly committed, talented individuals to study the molecular basis of Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare genetic disorder that results in degeneration of the retina eventually leading to irreversible vision loss. A large number of Retinitis Pigmentosa mutations map to the gene encoding rhodopsin, the dim-light visual receptor located in rod photoreceptor cells.

The aims of this research project are:

  • to investigate the molecular mechanisms of misfolding, proteolytic processing, and malfunction in these mutant receptors
  • to understand why they trigger destruction of photoreceptor cells
  • and to develop drug-screening platforms to enable identification of molecules for therapeutic intervention.

We are looking for a bright and highly motivated individual to complete a PhD in this area. The student will be involved with all aspects of research including mutant design, stable mammalian cell line construction, membrane protein purification and biochemical and biophysical characterisation of mutant pigments. Full training in these techniques will be provided.

The student will also spend training periods at the Institute of Ophthalmology (UCL) under the supervision of Professor Mike Cheetham.


The award consists of a full Home/EU fee waiver or equivalent fee discount for overseas students (further fee details), a doctoral stipend equivalent to the Research Councils UK National Minimum Doctoral Stipend (£15,009 in 2019-20), plus £2,500 training bursary via Proficio funding, which may be used to cover the cost of advanced skills training including conference attendance and travel.


Candidates for this studentship, funded jointly by Fight for Sight and the School of Life Sciences, must hold or expect a 1st class or high 2:1 BSc (Hons) degree, and ideally an MSc with merit/distinction or equivalent in the molecular biosciences.

How to apply

To apply for this studentship please email Emma Revill (ecrix@essex.ac.uk) with the following documents:

  • A CV (including contact details of two academic references).
  • A cover letter explaining your motivation and suitability for the PhD.

If you have any queries about this studentship please email the supervisor, Dr Philip Reeves (preeves@essex.ac.uk)