Seeking Multiple Highly-Motivated PhD Students

Posted on April 6,

The Lai lab is seeking for multiple highly-motivated PhD students to join our team. We are a new group to be established in May 2021 at the Department of Neuroscience, City University of Hong Kong. Previous publications from the laboratory can be viewed here: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4069-054X

The Department of Neuroscience is young and dynamic that offers outstanding research environment and state-of-the-art facilities for the pursuit of scientific excellence. Our campus is located in the heart of Kowloon peninsula of Hong Kong.

Using multi-disciplinary approaches including molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, imaging, and animal behavioral study, we aim to unravel key molecules and signaling pathways that control how neurons form and change their connections (synapses), with focus on the role of intracellular transport and cytoskeleton. Neurons are highly polarized and contain distinct cellular compartments such as the presynaptic axon terminals and the postsynaptic dendritic spines. Different molecules must therefore be precisely delivered to their destinations to support specific functions of the compartments, and the long-distance transport of molecules inside neuron depends on microtubule and the associated motor proteins. Using advanced imaging to visualize how materials are transported in neuron and how synapses are modulated, we can gain important insights into the dynamic changes inside a neuron, which underlie adaptive brain functions such as learning and memory. Consequently, disruption of intracellular transport contributes to synaptic deficits in brain disorders. Knowledge about transport mechanism is therefore crucial for our understanding on the diseased brain.

We are particularly interested in the transport of mRNAs in neuron; how intracellular transport is controlled by post-translational modification; and defects of protein transport in human stem cell-derived neurons related to brain disorders. We have recently identified arginine methylation as a crucial mechanism in synapse development (Lo et al. 2020 Cell Rep.; Zhao et al. 2020 eLife). We aim to further explore how arginine methylation of RNA-binding proteins and molecular motors regulate intracellular transport and local protein synthesis in neuron through live-cell imaging and metabolic labelling.

Applicants should possess a Master’s or Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science or a related discipline. Previous experience in cell culture, biochemistry, or molecular biology techniques is preferred. They should have strong passion in neuroscience or cell biology, and eagerness to employ new techniques and image analysis. Excellent communication skill and ability to work independently as well as in a team would be desirable.

If you are interested in joining us to explore RNA transport and translation in neuron, please send your CV as well as the names and contact information of two referees to Dr. Kwok-On Lai ([email protected]).