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Thursday, 17 January 2019
PhD project opportunity: Microbiome of integrated aquaculture systems

PhD project at the University of Cape Town

Closing date for applications: 8 February 2019

We are looking for a PhD student to join our project at the University of Cape Town (Department of Molecular and Cell Biology) and Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (Aquaculture Research Directorate) investigating the microbiome of integrated aquaculture systems (abalone/ seaweed). The microbiome (bacteria, fungi and oomycetes) associated with Ulva and systems receiving abalone effluent water or fertilized seawater will be characterized using next generation sequencing as well as standard microbiological methods.

This project is funded by the NRF under the Marine & Coastal Research Programme. The project is linked to a student bursary: R120K per annum (x 3 years) for a suitable PhD student. Potential students should have a background in Molecular Biology, Microbiology and/or Genetics.

Interested students should please send their CVs and copies of their academic transcripts to A. Prof. Vernon Coyne ( and Dr. Brett Macey ( by 8th February 2019.

Marine Biotechnology/Prof. Coyne's website

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Monday, 14 January 2019
MSc fellowship opportunity with Dr Ramona Hurdayal

MSc Fellowship in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Cape Town

Applications are invited from suitably qualified South African BSc Hons graduates for an MSc position in the 2019 academic year, under the supervision of Dr. Ramona Hurdayal (Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Cape Town) and Dr. Gerald Chege (South African Medical Research Council and Honorary Research Associate, University of Cape Town), co-supervisor. 


  • BSc Hons Degree in any relevant life sciences discipline (Immunology, Parasitology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Infectious Diseases, and Genetics).
  • Skills in immunology, molecular and cell biology, genetics, cell-culturing and BSL2-level practices will be advantageous.
  • Candidate must be willing to be involved in research involving animals (mouse models and non-human primate models), but they will not be expected to perform procedures on nonhuman primates.


  • NRF grant holder-linked bursary support (R40 000) is guaranteed for the duration of the project (2 years), with the possibility of additional funding sourced by the candidate and/or supervisor from other sources.

Project focus

  • Immunological and pathological responses in a novel non-human primate model of HIV and Leishmania donovani co-infection.

Interested candidates should send their CV, academic record and contact details of at least two referees to Dr. Ramona Hurdayal: ramona.hurdayal@uct, no later than January 31st 2019. 

Further information

Monday, 14 January 2019
Genetic Autism Cape Town Research Group MSc and PhD opportunities

The GACT Research Group in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology (UCT) invites applications for M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees starting in 2019.

Appilcation closing date:18 January 2019

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is disorder defined by deficits in social interaction and communication, and repetitive behaviours and interests. ASD is a heterogeneous disorder and is diagnosed primarily on behavioural criteria. In spite of decades of research, there is no unequivocal genetic or biochemical marker associated with ASD because there are a number of different ASD subtypes, as well as differential gene expression influencing ASD phenotypes. Our group focuses on understanding the genetics, epigenetics, expression and metabolomics of ASD in South African populations. We previously identified mitochondrial pathways associated with ASD in a South African ASD cohort using a whole epigenome screen. In addition, there is increasing evidence in the literature showing that aberrant mitochondrial function is linked to ASD, with a recent publication using post-mortem ASD brains showing that mitochondrial dysfunction was linked to ASD. Notably, mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in other neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Our group has a number of new projects starting in 2019 that will test the hypothesis that dysregulated mitochondrial function is associated with ASD in South African populations. These projects will examine expression of genes in mitochondrial pathways and assess mitochondrial function in a South African ASD cohort using quantitative DNA methylation, gene expression, RNA sequencing and metabolomic analysis. Potential projects for new M.Sc. or Ph.D. degrees starting in 2019 include those that: quantitate DNA methylation of specific genes in mitochondrial, mitophagy or ROS pathways; examine gene expression of mitochondrial canonical pathways; RNA sequencing; and quantitate mitochondrial metabolites to test for altered mitochondrial function using metabolomic analysis between ASD and controls.

We invite application from suitably qualified students to complete M.Sc. or Ph.D. research degrees in our group. Applicants must have a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Molecular & Cell Biology, Biochemistry or Genetics. Experience in genetics, epigenetics, gene expression analysis, metabolomics or bioinformatics will be an advantage. NRF grant-holder bursary support is available for the duration of the projects (2 yrs for M.Sc. and 3 yrs for Ph.D.).

To apply, send an email with your CV and the names of two referees to Dr O’Ryan by 18th January 2019.

GACT Research Group website

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Tuesday, 27 November 2018
UCT Science Faculty PhD Fellowship - deadline extended

Extended Deadline 31st January 2019

The Department of Molecular and Cell Biology invites applications for a University of Cape Town, Science Faculty PhD Fellowship for 2019. 

Criteria and eligibility for a Science Faculty PhD Fellowship

  • Excellent academic record
  • Completed Masters degree in appropriate field of research
  • Open to all local and international students
  • Doctoral Research proposal and identified supervisor(s) in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Preference will be given to students who are new to UCT 

The total value of the Science Faculty PhD Fellowship is R330 000 spread over three years to be paid according the following guidelines.

  • The maximum component for running expenses is restricted to R60 000 in total, with a limit of R30 000 per annum.
  • The maximum component for a bursary is restricted to R110 000 for any one year.
  • The value of the Science Faculty PhD fellowship will be reduced pro-rata if an applicant receives more than R200 000 in bursary/scholarship funding in any one year.

The intention is to favour those who are new to UCT, have a good academic record, an academically strong proposal with evidence of original planned research, a realistic time frame for completion of the thesis within three years and appropriate supervisor(s). 

Research Areas
The Department of Molecular & Cell Biology conducts basic and applied research that is of economic, medical, environmental and social importance to Africa. The research areas include evolution, environmental adaptation, health and disease of humans, animals and plants, involving pathogens such as protozoa, viruses and bacteria, biotechnology and biopharming. 

Application procedure
Applicants should contact academic staff in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology whose research is of interest to them and identify a Supervisor and Research Project.  Applicants should complete sections 1 to 4 of the application form and submit an electronic copy, together with a CV, and a copy of academic record to Ms Ghakiema Salie via email (, by 31st January, 2019
Letters from two referees supporting your application should also be directly emailed to Ms Ghakiema Salie by 31st January, 2019.

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