Following on from the intensive training provided in the Foundation and Advanced modules over the first two terms, students spend the remainder of their first year undertaking two 12-week research projects in two different research groups within the university, which are tailored to meet the likely requirements of their substantive D.Phil. project. Short projects address research problems of concern to industry and are co-supervised by one or more scientists from a partner company. Students are required to write a short dissertation on each of these rotations, written in the style of a journal article.
On completion of the short projects students undertake their substantive DPhil research project, with the students based within the research groups of their principal supervisor, which may be in the University or with an Industrial Partner.
Examples for such rotation projects are:
Membrane proteins such as G-protein coupled receptors can have changes of direction in their alpha helices, which we call kinks. The change in direction can be measured as an angle, which makes it possible to compare how these features appear across a whole family of proteins. We found families of homologous helices and analysed the variation in kink angle for each family. Some families showed a wide range of angles, while others were very highly conserved. This is of interest as the helices which show a range of different angles in different homologs may be quite flexible, and important for function. A superimposition of helices is shown below.
By having knowledge of the underlying chemistry, we are able to fully understand the function of biological tissues and fully appreciate the changes in tissues over time due to aging or due to disease. Therefore, existing chromatographic methods are being adapted and developed in order analyse tissue samples; looking for the presence of novel modifications alongside quantifying levels of post-translational modifications, particularly hydroxylation, in tissue samples. Quantitative data would allow for the comparison of diseased and healthy tissues, which potentially could inform treatment programmes for the treatment of injury and subsequent rehabilitation.