MRC MRes/PhD Studentship

Characterisation of a Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Model of Prostate Differentiation

  • MRC
  • Reference Code: CR059


Name of the supervisor(s)
Dr R Heer, Northern Institute for Cancer Research (NICR)

Professor C Robson, Northern Institute for Cancer Research (NICR)

Medical Research council (MRC)

Duration of the award
4 years (integrated Master’s and PhD).

Project description
Studies of highly prevalent prostate diseases, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer, are compromised by the lack of clinically relevant models using human prostate tissue. Although primary culture models exist, they are hampered by the small number of cells that can be cultured, viability beyond 2-4 weeks and altered phenotypes. A potential solution is the use of adult cells reprogrammed into embryonic stem cells (ESCs), called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which offer a theoretical limitless supply of cells that can be differentiated into prostate cells. Generation of tissue-specific iPSCs is important, as iPSCs show preferential differentiation into the lineages from which they were derived because of methylation imprinting from the parent somatic cell.

Our laboratory is the first to generate human prostate iPSCs, using an Oct4-Sox2-Klf4-cMyc polycistronic lentivirus, and we have shown that an early prostate-like phenotype can be regenerated. Of note, iPSCs derived from skin was unable to differentiate into mature prostate cells. These findings confirm prostate iPSC generation, but the full extent of prostate differentiation requires further characterisation. 

In this study we will assess if human prostate derived iPSCs can regenerate fully differentiated prostate-like glands in vivo. This will involve the introduction of differentiation and lineage specific fluorescent markers to allow tracing of prostate iPSCs differentiation. Characterisation of this prostate stem cell differentiation model will provide new insights into the mechanisms of prostate disease.

Value of the Award and Eligibility
Depending on how you meet the MRC’s eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award. A full award covers tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and an annual stipend of £13,590 (2012/13). A partial award covers fees at the UK/EU rate only.

Person Specification
Candidates must have a first class or upper-second-class BSc Honours degree in an appropriate scientific speciality or a Masters degree (Merit or Distinction) in a relevant subject.

How to Apply
You must complete the University’s postgraduate application form. Select “Master of Research/Doctor of Philosophy (Medical Sciences) – cancer research” as the programme of study. Only mandatory fields need to be completed (no personal statement required) but you must attach a copy of your CV and a covering letter, quoting the title of the studentship and reference number CR059.

Closing date for applications 
Prompt application is advised as this post is only available until a suitable candidate is appointed.

Further Information
For further details, please contact:
Dr R Heer

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      Characterisation of a Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Model of Prostate Differentiation MRC Reference Code: CR059 Details
      [See the full post at: MRC MRes/PhD Studentship]

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