Biological Sciences

PhD Projects

The listing below is for projects which are currently recruiting students. The majority of these are advertised in autumn and filled in January-March the following year. However we often have funded projects available outside this period, so please check back regularly.

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Project Titles

Supervisor Topic
Prof Susan Rosser Cell engineering strategies to enhance production of next-generation biologics

Project Details

Cell engineering strategies to enhance production of next-generation biologics


Supervisors:  Prof Susan Rosser (, Dr Hannah Florance ( and Dr Neha Dhami (UCB)


Interested individuals must follow Steps 1, 2 and 3 at this link on how to apply


The Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cell is the most widely used industrial expression system, generating ~70% of biopharmaceuticals (including multiple monoclonal antibodies) with a market value >$100 billion. However, many ‘difficult-to-express’ biologics – including novel molecules such as bi- and tri-specific antibodies – give unpredictably lower titres and additional complexities, requiring extensive cell line and process development. Productivity can be compromised by transgene suppression and bottlenecks in translation, trafficking, processing or secretion. The aim of this project is to use a combination of synthetic biology, genetic engineering tools, and modern ‘omics platforms (genomics, metabolomics and proteomics) to discover and address bottlenecks in the production of novel biologics in CHO cells.

The student will learn cutting edge gene editing tools (including CRISPR/Cas9), synthetic biology tools and metabolomics and proteomics platforms.


The project will be supervised jointly by Prof. Susan Rosser, Dr Hannah Florance and Dr Neha Dhami (UCB). Prof Rosser is professor of synthetic biology, director of the UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology (the ‘Centre’, and co-director of the Edinburgh Genome Foundry ( Dr Hannah Florance leads the metabolomics research at the Centre. Dr Neha Dhami is a research scientist in the Protein Sciences group at UCB.


The PhD student will become part of a cohort of students linked to the research of the new UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology based at the University of Edinburgh. Through support from the Research Council’s Synthetic Biology for Growth programme and of the BBSRC, EPSRC and MRC, the University has been awarded ~ £18M in funding to establish a national facility for DNA synthesis (the Edinburgh Genome Foundry) and one of six UK Centres of Excellence in synthetic biology. More information about our Centre can be found at and follow us on Twitter @SynthSysEd.


This is an exciting opportunity to be at the cutting edge of this fast moving area of science and technology in world-leading research institute and in collaboration with an innovative multinational. We are looking for highly motivated graduates who are enthusiastic about the potential of this new area of science and keen to work across disciplines.


This project is funded through an EPSRC CASE Award in collaboration with the company UCB. It therefore provides an excellent opportunity to work closely with industry professionals including working for at least three months on site at the company in Slough.

Further Information:

Please follow the instructions on how to apply:


This opportunity is only open to UK nationals (or EU students who have been resident in the UK for 3+ years immediately prior to the programme start date) due to restrictions imposed by the funding body. The successful candidate must be able to start by 1st April 2018 or earlier. We will accept applications until a suitable candidate is appointed.


Subject Area(s):

Synthetic biology, CHO cell engineering, metabolomics, proteomics

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