Fully funded four-year PhD Studentship: genetic interrogation of chromatin pathways

Applications are invited for a fully funded four-year PhD studentship at The Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, where you will work in the Tchasovnikarova Lab using genetic technologies to study chromatin biology.

About the Studentship

How do mutations in chromatin regulators cause disease? Over half of human cancers contain mutations in chromatin regulators, but our lack of understanding of how these factors exert their function in healthy human cells hampers our ability to design optimal therapeutics. The successful candidate will undertake a four year research project with the goal of discovering novel factors that are critical for epigenetic repression. The project will be centered around the use of high-throughput genetic technologies to interrogate the mechanism of action of chromatin-modifying factors. You will generate fluorescent cell lines capable of reporting on the function of key repressive pathways, which you will then characterise using genome-wide CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genetic screens and other cutting-edge genetic techniques. You will first seek to understand how these factors mediate epigenetic silencing in healthy human cells, and then go on to consider how mutations in these factors might lead to dysregulation of gene expression in diseases such as cancer. At the end of the studentship you will have gained a broad range of key experimental and transferable skills, which will provide an effective springboard towards a successful research career in the biological sciences.

You will work in the Tchasovnikarova laboratory, based at the Gurdon Institute which is situated in the heart of historic Cambridge. The Gurdon is a thriving academic community which includes around 60 postgraduate students. You will also become a member of the Department of Biochemistry (our home department), which is located next door. Your academic and social life will be enhanced by your affiliation with Peterhouse College, through which you will have access to accommodation in central Cambridge and a wide variety of student clubs, societies and activities.

The studentship is part of the University of Cambridge School of Biological Sciences Doctoral Training Programme. For home students, the position is fully funded: you will receive an annual stipend of £15,591, and your University tuition fees will be fully covered for four years starting from October 2021. Students not qualifying for 'home' fee status may be eligible for a fee waiver; further information on how your fee status is determined can be found here.

The Gurdon Institute
Department of Biochemistry
Peterhouse College

About the Tchasovnikarova Lab

The overarching goal of the Tchasovnikarova lab is to apply novel genetic approaches to answer outstanding questions in epigenetics. Our research aims to (1) understand the molecular mechanisms utilised by chromatin regulators to exert their function in healthy human cells, and to (2) examine how these mechanisms are altered in disease. We exploit a range of high-throughput genetic technologies, such as CRISPR/Cas9 genetic screens, to discover novel factors involved in chromatin pathways. We are also particularly interested in developing novel genetic methods to study epigenetic pathways in human cells.

Relevant recent publications

Epigenetic silencing by the HUSH complex mediates position-effect variegation in human cells


26th June, 2015

Hyperactivation of HUSH complex function by Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease mutation in MORC2

Nature Genetics

12th July, 2017

TASOR is a pseudo-PARP that directs HUSH complex assembly and epigenetic transposon control

Nature Communications

2nd October, 2020


Applicants should have or should shortly expect to obtain a minimum of a UK 2:1 Honours Degree (or equivalent) in the biological sciences. We are looking for highly motivated, enthusiastic and industrious individuals who are capable of thinking and working independently.

Informal Enquiries

For further details or informal enquires, please contact Dr. Iva Tchasovnikarova via email (it257[at]

Application Process

Interested applicants should apply initially through this website by clicking the button on the right. You will need to upload your CV (max two A4 pages), a covering letter (max one A4 page) and your official degree transcript(s), and provide full contact details for two academic referees. The closing date for applications is 7th February 2021. At a later stage in the selection process, shortlisted candidates will subsquently need to apply through the Cambridge University Postgraduate Admissions application portal.

During the first stage of the selection process we will consider your academic record, the comments from your referees, and your reseach experience and achievments to date. We are mindful that the extent of research opportunity varies greatly between candidates and will in many cases have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Shortlisted candidates will be asked to complete a brief written assessment to establish their suitability for working in the Tchasovnikarova Lab. Upon successful completion of the assessment, candidates will be invited to attend a virtual interview. We expect these to be held in late Feburary/early March.


PhD from the University of Cambridge





Research Location

The Gurdon Institute


4 years (starting October 2021)


£15,591 per year


Fully covered

Applications Open

Monday 11th January, 2021

Closing Date

Sunday 7th February, 2021