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Atrial fibrosis is a hallmark histological feature of structural changes in the myocardium associated with atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common arrhythmia in man. The mechanisms contributing or causing atrial fibrosis are not well understood.

We have recently shown that atrial fibrillation is associated with up-regulation of microRNA-31. MicroRNA-31 is encoded within a host gene long non-coding RNA loc554202, which is up-regulated in atrial fibroblasts in the presence of AF. The aim of this project to explore the role of loc554202 on atrial fibrosis.

Training Opportunities

Molecular  and cellular biology techniques (qRT-PCR, PCR, immunoblotting, immunoprecipitation, transfection, ELISA, BrDU, MTT, migration assay, asssessment of collagen accumulation , immunofluorescnece, RNAscope, etc), extensive cell culture experiments, gene array, ChIP, gain- and loss- of function assays, some in vivo and ex vivo mouse work.

As well as the specific training detailed above, students will have access to a wide-range of seminars and training opportunities through the many research institutes and centres based in Oxford. Students are also able to attend the Methods and Techniques course run by the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. This course runs through the year, ensuring that students have the opportunity to build a broad-based understanding of differing research techniques.

Generic skills training is offered through the Medical Sciences Division's Skills Training Programme. This programme offers a comprehensive range of courses covering many important areas of researcher development: knowledge and intellectual abilities, personal effectiveness, research governance and organisation, and engagement, influence and impact. Students are actively encouraged to take advantage of the training opportunities available to them.

The department has a successful mentoring scheme, open to graduate students, which provides an additional possible channel for personal and professional development outside the regular supervisory framework. We hold an Athena SWAN Silver Award in recognition of our efforts to support the careers of female students and staff.


Reilly SN, Liu X, Carnicer R, Recalde A, Muszkiewicz A, Jayaram R, Carena MC, Wijesurendra R, Stefanini M, Surdo NC, Lomas O, Ratnatunga C, Sayeed R, Krasopoulos G, Rajakumar T, Bueno-Orovio A, Verheule S, Fulga TA, Rodriguez B, Schotten U, Casadei B. 2016. Up-regulation of miR-31 in human atrial fibrillation begets the arrhythmia by depleting dystrophin and neuronal nitric oxide synthase.Sci Transl Med,  8 (340), pp. 340ra74

Research Themes, Tools and Technologies


Key Dates for October 2018 Entry

The deadline for funded applications was 8 January 2018.

We are still accepting applications from candidates who are able to secure funding elsewhere until 12 noon on Friday 27 July 2018.

Some projects may have earlier deadline dates. Please check the project description carefully if you are considering applying.

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How to apply

To apply for a place on the DPhil in Medical Sciences you will need to submit an application using the online application form.

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