Two PhD positions in RNA therapy delivery to intestinal cells and large anima model of intestinal inflammation

APC Microbiome Ireland, School of Medicine and School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, University College Cork, Ireland are currently recruiting two fully funded PhD positions under the GENEGUT Research and Innovation Action.

We are looking for two highly motivated candidates to join the laboratories of Prof Subrata Ghosh, Dr Silvia Melgar and Dr Ken Nally, UCC/APC Microbiome Ireland for a four-year research project funded by Horizon Europe. The project aims to develop the first oral RNA-based therapy for ileal Crohn’s Disease (CD), a chronic intestinal inflammation of the gut. Our colleagues in the School of Pharmacy, UCC, will develop novel biomaterials such as amphiphilic cyclodextrins and amino polyesters, to identify NPs suitable for intracellular delivery of RNA to cells in the small intestine. Once these RNA NPs formulations have been generated, the PhD candidates will evaluate their efficacy in targeting three immunomodulatory pathways associated with Crohn’s disease pathogenesis in three relevant human intestinal cell types including immune (macrophages) and non-immune cells (fibroblasts and epithelial cells). The candidates will also examine the mechanism of action by the RNA formulation using RNASequencing and proteomic analysis, in collaboration with our partners at Uppsala University, Sweden. Finally, a disease relevant large animal model will be established, and validated to assess the efficacy and its impact on inflammation by the orally delivered encapsulated RNAs to the small intestine of the pigs.

About the candidate

The PhD candidates will conduct a specified programme of research under the supervision of Dr Silvia Melgar and Dr Ken Nally.

The successful candidates will be able to develop and apply cell and molecular biology skills, work in a cross-disciplinary research team and work closely with our academic and industry collaborators, including RNA biologists, pharmacologist, nanomedicine experts, drug delivery experts, and clinical scientists. The candidates should have strong interpersonal skills and excellent oral/written communication skills.

Experience in one or more of the following areas will be beneficial but is not required: RNA biology, cell and molecular biology, immunology, bioinformatics, and animal work.

Technical skills in cell culture, RNAi biology, RT-PCR, western blots, flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, RNASequencing, bioinformatics and animal models/handling are desirable.

Eligibility criteria

  • Applicants must have a first class or upper second-class honours degree in Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Cell biology, Immunology, Molecular Biology, or a life science area

  • M.Sc. degree is desirable but not essential

  • Prospective Ph.D. students should have prior practical laboratory experience

  • Prior experience with in vivo animal models and bioinformatics is desirable but not essential.

  • Applicants must all meet UCC eligibility requirements for registration as a PhD student.


Availability to start 1st October 2022 will be an advantage.


Interested candidates should send a detailed CV, including contact details to at least two referees, and a cover letter via email to [email protected] or [email protected] on or before the closing date of August x, 2022. Please include “PhD in RNA delivery in cells and animal model” in the subject line of your email.

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