Fully funded three-year PhD studentship: Genetic Interrogation of the Ubiquitin-Proteasome System

Applications are invited for a fully funded three-year PhD studentship at The Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology & Infectious Disease (CITIID), University of Cambridge, where you will work in the Timms Lab developing genetic technologies to study the ubiquitin-proteasome system.

About the Studentship

How can we target E3 ubiquitin ligases for therapeutic benefit? Work in the Timms laboratory centres around exploiting cutting-edge genetic technologies to study the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS). The UPS is the major route through which the cell achieves selective protein degradation, and hence the system plays a critical role in essentially all cellular processes. UPS components are a largely untapped source of potential drug targets, but an enhanced understanding of how E3 ubiquitin ligases select their substrates is required to guide the development of novel therapeutics.

The successful candidate will undertake a three-year research project using a combination of expression screening techniques and loss-of-function CRISPR screening approaches with the goal of (1) identifying substrates of E3 ubiquitin ligases, (2) delineating the specific molecular features ("degrons") that dictate substrate recognition, and (3) exploring how these processes are corrupted in the context of viral infection and autoimmune disease. This studentship is ideal for someone passionate about genetics who is eager to exploit the latest technologies in areas such as CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing, microarray oligonucleotide synthesis, pooled lentiviral library screens, and next-generation sequencing and associated computational approaches. 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 Timms laboratory, based in the Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infections Disease (CITIID) which is situated at the heart of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. The Institute is housed within the brand new Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre building, thus benefiting from modern facilities and state-of-the-art equipment. You will also become a member of one of the 31 Cambridge Colleges, through which you will have access to accommodation and a wide variety of student clubs, societies and activities.

For home students, the position is fully funded: you will receive an annual stipend of £18,000, and your University tuition fees will be fully covered for three years starting from October 2022. Regretfully, no additional funding is available to support applicants not qualifying for 'home' fee status; further information on how your fee status is determined can be found here.

About the Timms Lab

The goal of research in the Timms lab is to apply the latest genetic technologies to uncover novel functions for human genes, with our primary focus being the regulation of cellular processes by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. We exploit a range of high-throughput genetic screening techniques to uncover novel pathways regulated by ubiquitin, which we study both in healthy human cells and in the context of viral infection and autoimmune disease. We measure the stability of GFP-tagged proteins by performing expression screens in human cells, either using a human ORFeome library comprising ~14,000 barcoded human ORFs or custom libraries generated through microarray-based oligonucleotide synthesis, and identify the cellular machinery involved by combining these expression screens with loss-of-function CRISPR/Cas9 screens. Detailed follow-up of individual pathways of interest is achieved through a variety of standard genetic and biochemical approaches.

Relevant Recent Publications

Research article
The Eukaryotic Proteome Is Shaped by E3 Ubiquitin Ligases Targeting C-Terminal Degrons


14th June, 2018

The Eukaryotic Proteome Is Shaped by E3 Ubiquitin Ligases Targeting C-Terminal Degrons

Koren I, Timms RT, Kula T, Xu Q, Li MZ, Elledge SJ
Research article
A glycine-specific N-degron pathway mediates the quality control of protein N-myristoylation


5th July, 2019

A glycine-specific N-degron pathway mediates the quality control of protein N-myristoylation

Timms RT, Zhang Z, Rhee DY, Harper JW, Koren I, Elledge SJ
Review article
Tying up loose ends: the N-degron and C-degron pathways of protein degradation

Biochemical Society Transactions

6th July, 2020

Tying up loose ends: the N-degron and C-degron pathways of protein degradation

Timms RT, Koren I


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. Richard Timms via email (rtt20[at]cam.ac.uk).

Application Process

Interested applicants should apply through the central University of Cambridge Postgraduate Admissions application portal. When you reach the 'Research' section of the online form, please select 'Yes' to add extra information: add 'Genetic interrogation of the ubiquitin-proteasome system' to the 'Proposed title(s) of research' field, 'Not applicable' to the 'Summary of proposed research project' field, and 'Dr. Richard Timms' to the 'Name of proposed supervisor(s)' field. The closing date for applications is 28th February 2022.

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 Timms Lab. Upon successful completion of the assessment, candidates will be invited to attend an interview. We expect these to be held in March.


PhD from the University of Cambridge



Research Location

Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology
& Infectious Disease


3 years (starting October 2022)


£18,000 per year


Fully covered


Minimum 2:1 degree in biological sciences
Home (UK) students only

Applications Open

Tuesday 8th February, 2022

Closing Date

Monday 28th February, 2022

The application deadline has now passed