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


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Analysis of neuronal kinesin-1 activation dynamics in response to cargo binding

Project Outline: We are recruiting a PhD student to work on an interdisciplinary project studying kinesin activation in the context of axonal transport and neurodegeneration. This project uses advanced single molecule imaging, biochemistry and neuronal cell biology techniques to reveal fundamental insights into motor protein regulation and axonal transport, with translational outcomes for neurodegenerative diseases.

Project in detail: Neurons form complex extended cellular structures. For example, motoneurons have cell bodies in the spinal cord whilst extending axons down to the muscles of hands and feet. This presents a problem for neurons, as the majority of newly synthesized protein is made in the cell body and then transported 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. All axonal transport out from the cell body is powered by kinesin microtubule motors. However, different classes of cargo can slow kinesin transport by up to 100-fold. The goal of this project is to understand how kinesin responds dynamically to different types of cargo, shedding light on how different transport rates are achieved in neurons, and how this is disrupted in neurodegeneration.

To complete this project, you will be trained in advanced, real-time imaging and analysis (single molecule FRET; single particle tracking), cell biological (primary and stem cell derived neuronal culture, CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering) and biochemical (protein expression; labelling; purification) approaches. There is also potential to develop super-resolution (PALM/STORM; iSIM) and electron microscopy aspects to the project. This research will provide broad insights into axonal transport, and translational outcomes for neurodegenerative diseases.

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 Tim Craggs (Dept of Chemistry, Sheffield); Prof Michelle Peckham (Astbury Centre, Leeds).

Award Details: This project is fully funded for four years through the BBSRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership. In addition to the cutting edge experimental training outlined above, DTP students are provided with a structured programme of training courses in core skills such as new technologies, data-analysis and modelling, and commercialisation awareness. There is also a 3 month Professional Internships for PhD Students (PIPS) placement, providing beneficial transferable skills. Funding covers (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate (~£14-£15K, to be confirmed for 2018), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. Studentships are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements. Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award. Further information on eligibility

Eligibility: 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, biomedical sciences. You should have, or expect to achieve, a first or upper second class UK honours degree or equivalent. There is an additional language requirement for international students.

We strongly encourage you to email the project supervisor prior to submitting an application to discuss your suitability for this project. Please email:

Application deadline: 7th of January 2018

Further Reading:

About the model system:

Twelvetrees AE, Pernigo S, Sanger A, Guedes-Dias P, Schiavo G, Steiner RA, Dodding MP, Holzbaur ELF (2016). The Dynamic Localization of Cytoplasmic Dynein in Neurons Is Driven by Kinesin-1. Neuron, 90(5):1000-15.

About the imaging technique:

Evans GW, Hohlbein J, Craggs TD, Aigrain L, Kapanidis AN (2015). Real-time single-molecule studies of the motions of DNA polymerase fingers illuminate DNA synthesis mechanisms. Nucleic Acids Res, 43(12):5998-6008.



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.