Theme 3: Tissue engineering

Prof. John Bertram

Prof. Jose Polo

Dr. Bo Sun


Podocytes are the cells in kidney glomeruli responsible for blood filtration. Loss and alteration of podocytes lead to dysfunction of the glomerular filtration barrier which can result in Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). CKD is estimated to affect 11-13% of the world population, eventually resulting in kidney dialysis or transplantation.

Podocytes are terminally differentiated, and they do not have a stem cell to replace them, so once they are lost there is not a regenerative process to replace them. We hypothesise that podocytes could be replenished by reprogramming means. Two other cell types are located close to podocytes: endothelial cells and parietal epithelial cells. In order to test this hypothesis, we will use TFs predicted by the MOGRIFY algorithm to reprogram in vitro different cells into podocytes. We will test this in mouse and human cells. The effect of the TFs in the cells as well as the degree of reprogramming will be assessed by morphological, molecular and functional characterization.

This project is a collaboration between the labs of Prof. John Bertram and Prof. Jose Polo and will be conducted under the direct supervision of Dr Yu Bo Yang Sun. Both labs are exceptionally well-equipped and host to well-experienced researchers with expertise in a diverse set of disciplines. The successful candidate will learn and utilise a number of biochemistry and molecular techniques, including RNA-seq, ATAC-seq, single-cell omics, Cut&Run, genome editing, and various molecular cell biology approaches. During the course of the PhD, the successful candidate will have the opportunity to attend both national and international conferences, as well as local institute meetings to present their research. The candidate can commence the project in 2022.

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