Molecular and Cell Biology and Genetics

This doctoral study programme is organized by the Faculty of Science in English and the studies are subject to tuition. There is an alternative option for the international applicants to be accepted in the free programme administered in Czech with the possibility of receiving a scholarship. The study language of the programme is still English (Czech is the administrative language). Before officially applying, please contact us at admission@sci.muni.cz to find all the necessary information related to the scholarship and see our FAQ’s.

Submit an application

International applicants for doctoral study (Czech and Slovak Republics applicants NOT included)
Submission deadline until midnight 15 December 2024.

What will you learn?

The program is a product of the fusion of former independent Molecular and Cellular Biology with General and Molecular Genetics. We propose the fusion to reflect modern holistic approaches dominating in both fields that converge them to close proximity and bring benefits to both of them. The aim of the program is to provide excellent scientific education in the field of molecular and cell biology and genetics. The graduates thus should be proficient to accomplish research of the nature of living phenomena on molecular, cellular, tissue and organismal levels. To achieve this aim, students are systematically guided to advance their theoretical knowledge in the field and master practical skills in applications of modern methods of molecular and cellular biology, genetics and other related fields. The key themes include the study of genes and genomes and their expression in microorganisms, plants, animals and humans. Special attention is paid to their relations to pathological conditions. Research performed on microorganisms is focused preferentially on molecular diagnosis and genomics of selected pathogenic and clinically significant bacterial strains and their interactions with bacteriophages. Research on plants is concentrated mainly on the study of genes of model plants and plants used in agriculture. In animals and humans, research is focused on the genetical structure of populations, molecular diagnosis of prenatal and postnatal pathogenic situations, genetics of tumours, the study of signalling processes connected with the regulation of proliferation, differentiation and programmed cell death in tumour cells and detection of genetical factors associated with certain polygenic diseases. Students are free to perform independent research in well-equipped laboratories and experienced supervisors are nominated to guide them in this effort. Students are continuously confronted with progress in the field by discussions in regular laboratory meetings, institutional seminars or conferences. Successful conference presentations or published articles are awarded by a special stipend.

“Windows of the living cell universe wide-opened.”

Practical training

The students who are interested in applied research can collaborate with companies as Repromeda (assisted reproduction), MB Pharma (devising phage preparations) or to participate in grant projects funded by TACR leading to applied outcomes. We aim to further support contractual research with applied potential, search for suitable partners and provide them with option to collaborate with students interested in this kind of research.

Further information

Additional information can be found in following addresses:

http://www.sci.muni.cz/cz/DoktorskeStudium/Prehled-programu-a-oboru

http://www.sci.muni.cz/cz/UEB

Career opportunities

Graduates find positions in various research institutes, universities, hospitals and other medical facilities and laboratories oriented to virology, microbiology, genetics, biochemistry, immunology, pharmacology, pathology, etc. They are ready to perform independent research, draft scientific projects, create grant applications, experimental work itself, including rigorous interpretations of results and presentations in oral as well as written forms. They are also educated to act as teachers. Graduates from this program are sought-after by employers and many of them currently work on positions of leading researchers, university teachers, top managers and directors in various research and education institutions in the Czech Republic. Many graduates leaves for postdoctoral stays abroad, especially to westeuropean countries, USA, Canada, Japan, Australia. They often become highly-appreciated members of research teams there.

Admission requirements

Admission procedure
The admission interview is usually in an online form and consists of two parts:
1) expert interview – checking expertise background and motivation (max. 100 points),
2) Language part – check of communication skills in English, interview and expert discussion is in English (max. 100 points)

More information about admission process for international applicants in general can be found in the section Admission Process.

Date of the entrance exam
The applicants will receive information about the entrance exam by e-mail usually at least 10 days before the exam.
Please, always check your e-mails, including spam folders.

Conditions of admission
To be admitted, a candidate must obtain a total of 70 out of 100 points in the expert knowledge part and 60 out of 100 points in the language part.
Successful applicants are informed of their acceptance by e-mail and subsequently receive an invitation to the enrolment.

Programme capacity
The capacity of a given programme is not fixed; students are admitted based on a decision by the Doctoral Board after assessing their aptitude for study and motivation.

Deadlines

2 Jan – 15 Dec 2024

Submit your application during this period

Submit an application

Dissertation topics

Single-subject studies

From osteoblast to osteocyte – emerging aspects of FasL signaling
Supervisor: prof. RNDr. Eva Matalová, Ph.D.

Osteocyty jsou dominantní buněčnou populací v maturované kosti. Přestože jsou zabudovány v mineralizované matrix, vytvářejí sofistikované sítě a jsou esenciální pro kostní homeostázu. FasL (Fas ligand, CD178) má apoptotickou funkci v regulaci počtu osteoklastů (a remodelaci kosti) a jako takový je kandidátem v anti-osteoporotických strategiích. Aktuálně jsou však diskutovány také neapoptotické funkce FasL a související kaskády. U osteocytů byl ukázán vliv FasL na expresi jejich klíčového markeru, sklerostinu. Práce bude zaměřena na proces osteocytogeneze a modulaci Fas/FasL signalizace v jeho jednotlivých fázích s cílem určení molekulárních mechanismů neapoptotických funkcí FasL v osteogenních drahách. Projekt je realizován ve spolupráci s Medical University Vienna a University of Southern California, LA v rámci programu Inter-Excellence.

Osteocytes are the dominant bone population in matured bones. Despite being embedded in the mineralized matrix, they create sophisticated networks and are essential for bone homeostasis. FasL (Fas ligand, CD178) has apoptotic function in regulation of osteoclast number (and bone remodeling) and as such is a candidate in anti-osteoporotic strategies. Recently, emerging non-apoptotic functions of FasL and associated pathways have been discussed. In osteocytes, impact of FasL on expression of clerostin, their key marker was demonstrated. The research will focus on the process of osteocytogenesis and modulation of Fas/FasL signaling at its particular stages in order to identify molecular mechanisms underlying non-apoptotic functions of FasL in osteogenic molecular networks. The project proceeds in cooperation with the Medical University Vienna and the University of Southern California, LA within the Inter-Excellence programme.
Supervisor

prof. RNDr. Eva Matalová, Ph.D.

Molecular dynamics during integration of the tooth and surrounding structures in the mandible
Supervisor: prof. RNDr. Eva Matalová, Ph.D.

Dolní čelist je mobilní, zuby nesoucí struktura důležitá pro mastikaci. Pro plnění jejich funkce je nezbytné správné ukotvení zubů v čelisti. Procesy související s vytvářením dentice tak musí být synchronizovány s dalšími, které probíhají u okolních struktur. Inovativní přístup je založen na solidních preliminárních datech pro zodpovězení důležitých otázek, které se týkají interakcí buněk a tkání při tvorbě funkčního mandibulárního komplexu. Projekt přinese originální data k buněčným a molekulárním mechanismům, které formují a udržují měkkou tkáň rozhraní zubu a kosti, a k dynamickému vztahu kosti a zubu, jejich vaskularizaci a inervaci. Projekt je realizován ve spolupráci s King's College London a s podporou GAČR.

The lower jaw is a mobile, tooth-bearing structure important for mastication. To fulfil their function, teeth must be properly anchored within the jaw. The processes of the dentition establishment thus need to be synchronized with those taking place within surrounding structures. The innovative approach is based on solid preliminary data for addressing important questions regarding cell and tissue interactions to create a functional mandibular complex. The research will bring original data on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that form and maintain the soft tooth-bone interface, and on the dynamic relationship between the bone and teeth, their vascularization and innervation. The project runs in cooperation with the King's College London and is supported by GAČR.
Supervisor

prof. RNDr. Eva Matalová, Ph.D.

Molecular factors associated with vascularization, innervation and stem cells of the dental pulp
Supervisor: Mgr. Eva Švandová, Ph.D.

Zubní pulpa představuje cévní a nervové zásobení zubu obklopené jeho tvrdými komponentami. Jedná se o unikátní tkáň, která je klíčová pro vitalitu zubu, současně náchylná na působení zevních vlivů a vykazující omezenou míru regenerace. Kmenové buňky, které byly identifikovány v zubní pulpě, jsou proto atraktivním předmětem biomedicínského výzkumu. Obecně je známo, že výskyt kmenových buněk je asociován s vaskularizací a inervací tkání, většina poznatků ke kmenovým buňkám zubní pulpy však pochází z in vitro analýz. Cílem vědecko-výzkumné činnosti bude výzkum molekulárních faktorů týkajících se těchto asociací, a to v kontextu in vivo. Projekt zahrnuje zejména histologické a imunohistochemické metody, PCR techniky, statistickou analýzu dat a experimentální práci na myším modelu. K pozici je možné získat částečný úvazek na běžícím GAČR projektu. Kandidát na tuto pozici by měl samostatně pracovat s odbornou literaturou a být všeobecně orientován v oboru molekulární biologie. Znalost výše uvedených technik není nutná.

Notes

This project will be supervised by dr. Eva Švandová, Ph.D upon approval by Scientific Board of the Faculty of Science.

Supervisor

Mgr. Eva Švandová, Ph.D.

Proteins interactions with DNA, focus on local DNA structures
Supervisor: prof. Mgr. Václav Brázda, Ph.D.

Genome sequencing brings a huge amount of information regarding the genetic basis of life. While this information provides a foundation for our understanding of biology, it has become clear that the DNA code alone does not hold all the answers. Epigenetic modifications and higher order DNA structures beyond the double helix contribute to basic biological processes and maintaining cellular stability. Local alternative DNA structures are known to exist in all organisms. Negative supercoiling induces in vitro local nucleotide sequence-dependent DNA structures such as cruciforms, left-handed DNA, triplex and quadruplex structures etc. The formation of cruciforms requires perfect or imperfect inverted repeats of 6 or more nucleotides in the DNA sequence. Inverted repeats are distributed nonrandomly in the vicinity of breakpoint junctions, promoter regions, and at sites of replication initiation. Cruciform structures could for example affect the degree of DNA supercoiling, the positioning of nucleosomes in vivo, and the formation of other secondary structures of DNA. The three-dimensional molecular structure of DNA, specifically the shape of the backbone and grooves of genomic DNA, can be dramatically affected by nucleotide changes, which can cause differences in protein-binding affinity and phenotype. The recognition of cruciform DNA seems to be critical not only for the stability of the genome, but also for numerous, basic biological processes. As such, it is not surprising that many proteins have been shown to exhibit cruciform structure-specific binding properties or G-quadruplex binding properties. Contemporary we have developed easy accessible web tools for analyses of inverted repeats and G-quadruplexes and we have analyzed the presence of inverted repeats and G-quadruplexes in various genomic datasets, such as all sequences mitochondrial genomes, all bacterial genomes, in S.cerevisiae, in human genome etc. A deeper understanding of the processes related to the formation and function of alternative DNA structures will be an important component to consider in the post-genomic era.

Notes

Supervisor:
Doc. Mgr. Václav Brázda, PhD.; Biofyzikální ústav AVČR, Královopolská 135, 612 65 Brno, tel. 541517231, fax 541211293, e-mail: vaclav@ibp.cz
https://www.ibp.cz/en/research/departments/biophysical-chemistry-and-molecular-oncology/staff/5

Supervisor

prof. Mgr. Václav Brázda, Ph.D.

Úloha nekódujících RNA při poškození a opravě DNA
Supervisor: doc. RNDr. Eva Bártová, Ph.D., DSc.

DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are abrasions caused in both strands of the DNA duplex following exposure to both exogenous and endogenous conditions. Such abrasions have deleterious effects on cells leading to genome rearrangements and cell death [1]. Several repair systems, including homologous recombination (HR) and non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ), have been evolved to minimize the fatal effects of these lesions in the cell. Growing amounts of evidence suggest that different types of RNAs can, independently from their protein-coding properties, directly affect chromatin conformation, transcription, and splicing, as well as promote the activation of the DNA damage response (DDR) and DNA repair. Therefore, transcription paradoxically functions to both threaten and safeguard genome integrity [2,3]. Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) and several protein factors involved in the RNAi pathway are well-known master chromatin regulators, while only recent reports show their involvement in DDR.
The Ph.D. candidate would focus on improving used methods and developing a novel for detecting selected ncRNAs within various cell lines using specific DNA probes. The methodology would be mainly built upon experiences with in situ hybridization within Dr. Bártová research group. The goal of the Ph.D. thesis would also be to determine changes in the localization of tested ncRNAs within normal and cancer cell lines after UV irradiation as well as detection of ncRNAs colocalization with DNA damage repair markers, such as y-H2AX, 53BP1, RIF1 or R-loop and others, together with protein-DNA and protein-RNA interactions using advanced methods of confocal microscopy. The Ph.D. candidate will also participate in the day-to-day running of the laboratory as well as in teaching activities.
Dvojřetězcové zlomy DNA (DSB) vznikají u obou vláknech duplexu DNA po vystavení exogenním i endogenním podmínkám. Poškození DNA má na buňky škodlivé účinky, které vedou k přestavbě genomu a buněčné smrti [1]. K minimaliaci fatálních účinků těchto lézí v buňce bylo vyvinuto několik opravných mechanizmů, včetně homologní rekombinace (HR) a nehomologního spojování konců (NHEJ). Rostoucí množství důkazů naznačuje, že různé typy RNA mohou nezávisle na svých vlastnostech (kódování proteinů) přímo ovlivňovat konformaci chromatinu, transkripci a sestřih a také podporovat aktivaci odpovědi na poškození DNA (DDR) a opravu DNA. Transkripce tedy paradoxně funguje tak, že ohrožuje i chrání integritu genomu [2,3]. Nekódující RNA (ncRNA) a několik proteinových faktorů zapojených do dráhy RNAi jsou dobře známými hlavními regulátory chromatinu, zatímco teprve nedávné studie ukazují jejich zapojení do DDR.
Doktorand by se zaměřil na zdokonalení používaných metod a vývoj nových, pro detekci vybraných ncRNA v různých buněčných liniích pomocí specifických DNA sond. Metodika by byla postavena především na zkušenostech s in situ hybridizací v rámci výzkumné skupiny Dr. Bártové. Cílem doktorské práce by bylo také stanovení změn v lokalizaci testovaných ncRNA v rámci normálních a nádorových buněčných linií po ozáření UV zářením a detekce kolokalizace ncRNA s markery reparace poškození DNA, jako jsou y-H2AX, 53BP1, RIF1 nebo R-loop a další, spolu s interakcemi protein-DNA a protein-RNA pomocí pokročilých metod konfokální mikroskopie. Doktorand se bude rovněž podílet na každodenním chodu laboratoře a na výuce.
1. Dianatpour, A.; Ghafouri-Fard, S. The Role of Long Non-Coding RNAs in the Repair of DNA Double-Strand Breaks. Int J Mol Cell Med 2017, 6, 1-12. 2. Sharma, V.; Misteli, T. Non-coding RNAs in DNA damage and repair. FEBS Lett 2013, 587, 1832-1839, doi:10.1016/j.febslet.2013.05.006. 3. Francia, S. Non-Coding RNA: Sequence-Specific Guide for Chromatin Modification and DNA Damage Signaling. Front Genet 2015, 6, 320, doi:10.3389/fgene.2015.00320.

Supervisor

doc. RNDr. Eva Bártová, Ph.D., DSc.

Supervisors

Study information

Provided by Faculty of Science
Type of studies Doctoral
Mode full-time Yes
combined Yes
distance No
Study options single-subject studies Yes
single-subject studies with specialization No
major/minor studies No
Standard length of studies 4 years
Language of instruction English
Collaborating institutions
  • The Czech Academy of Sciences
  • Biofyzikální ústav AV ČR
Doctoral board and doctoral committees
Tuition fees
The studies are subject to tuition, fees are paid per academic year
€3,000
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