JoinING the Lab

Open funded positions will be advertised here, on the University website and on our social media pages - BUT we’re always happy to hear from enthusiastic, ambitious, hardworking researchers who are interested in bringing their ideas to the lab.

If you are interested in joining the group, email directly to discuss potential projects and funding (a.twelvetrees at



How do neurodegenerative mutations in kinesin-1 alter its structure, motility and cellular function?

Project: This studentship is focused on understanding the molecular basis of neurodegeneration through the study of molecular motors, with the aim of opening up new avenues for intervention in disease. You will be part of a new, multidisciplinary collaboration between the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) at the University of Sheffield and the Astbury Centre at the University of Leeds. 

Neurons form complex extended cellular structures. For example, motor neurons have cell bodies in the spinal cord, but extend axons down to the muscles of hands and feet. This length presents a problem for motor neurons, as the majority of newly synthesized protein is made in the cell body and then transported long distances down the axon to its site of use. Consequently, defects in transport are observed in many neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and ALS, and understanding the mechanism of axonal transport is crucial to providing new avenues for therapeutic intervention. Kinesin motors power polarised long-range transport along the microtubules in neuronal axons. The goal of this project is to understand how disease causing mutations in kinesin disrupt the transport of specific axonal cargo. 

This project represents a truly unique opportunity to integrate neuronal models of disease with biochemical & biophysical approaches and structural biology, exploring the molecular basis of transport by kinesin across systems and scales. The three research groups linked to this project encompass expertise in the structural, biophysical and neuronal cell biology of kinesin mediated axonal transport. You will be trained in advanced real-time imaging and analysis; neuronal cell biology (primary, stem cell and patient cell derived neuronal culture); biophysical approaches (in vitro reconstitution; single particle tracking); and structural biology. There is also potential to develop super-resolution microscopy (PALM/STORM) and CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing approaches to support the project. This research will provide fundamental insights into axonal transport, with translational outcomes for neurodegenerative diseases. 

Who: Creative individuals with an eye for detail are encouraged to apply. As an interdisciplinary project, applications from people from a diverse range scientific backgrounds are welcomed e.g. cell biology, biophysics, neuroscience, biochemistry, chemistry, structural biology and biomedical sciences.

Where: The successful applicant will be based in the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience, whilst working closely with all three labs involved. You will be supervised by Dr Alison Twelvetrees (Dept of Neuroscience, Sheffield), Dr Kurt De Vos (Dept of Neuroscience, Sheffield) and Dr Joseph Cockburn (Astbury Centre, Leeds).

Award Details: This project will be fully funded for 3.5 years through the MRC DiMeN Doctoral Training Partnership. In addition to the cutting edge experimental training outlined above, DTP students receive bespoke training in key skills sought after in early career researchers, as well as opportunities to broaden your career horizons in a range of non-academic sectors. Being funded by the MRC means you can access additional funding for research placements, international training opportunities or internships in science policy, science communication and beyond.  Funding covers a stipend at national UKRI standard rate ; tuition fees; research training and support grant (RTSG); and travel allowance.

Eligibility: To qualify, you must be a UK or EU citizen who has been resident in the UK/EU for 3 years prior to commencement. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least a 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. All applications are scored blindly based on merit. 

You are strongly encouraged to email the project supervisor prior to submitting an application to discuss your suitability for this project. Please email:

Application deadline: 21st of January 2019; details on how to apply

Further Reading:

Twelvetrees, Alison E., Stefano Pernigo, Anneri Sanger, Pedro Guedes-Dias, Giampietro Schiavo, Roberto A. Steiner, Mark P. Dodding, and Erika L. F. Holzbaur. 2016. “The Dynamic Localization of Cytoplasmic Dynein in Neurons Is Driven by Kinesin-1.” Neuron 90 (5): 1000–1015. 

Cockburn, Joseph J. B., Sophie J. Hesketh, Peter Mulhair, Maren Thomsen, Mary J. O’Connell, and Michael Way. 2018. “Insights into Kinesin-1 Activation from the Crystal Structure of KLC2 Bound to JIP3.” Structure 26 (11): 1486–98.e6. 

Moller, Annekathrin, Claudia S. Bauer, Rebecca N. Cohen, Christopher P. Webster, and Kurt J. De Vos. 2017. “Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis-Associated Mutant SOD1 Inhibits Anterograde Axonal Transport of Mitochondria by Reducing Miro1 Levels.” Human Molecular Genetics 26 (23): 4668–79.



Interested undergraduates who wish to apply for summer studentships should contact me directly with a CV and brief description of your scientific interests and goals. There are a number of potential sources of funding for placements, including through the University of Sheffield SURE scheme and other funding bodies. Deadlines for funding opportunities are frequently quite early in the year, so try to get in contact as soon as possible following the Christmas vacation.


Masters students

The lab submits projects to the Translational Neuroscience MSc and Molecular Medicine MSc courses. Do get in contact if there is another opportunity you want help with inside or outside the University of Sheffield.


Graduate students

Fully funded PhD studentships in the lab will be advertised on this page as they become available. However, we are always happy to hear from students interested in our research and well qualified, motivated graduates should contact me directly to discuss potential projects and options for funding. Further details on the funding opportunities available at the university are available here.



Open funded positions will always be advertised on this page when they become available, but we are always happy to hear from talented scientists with diverse research backgrounds who want to bring in their ideas. Our multidisciplinary research means we can provide training for researchers with a strong track record who are motivated to gain experience and develop skills in different areas and techniques. There are several possible sources of funding for post-doctoral research, including but not limited to:

Most funding sources have deadlines of up to one year in advance of starting the project. Therefore, if you are interested in joining the group as a post-doc, you should contact us as early as possible to discuss potential projects and funding opportunities.