The Science: You should consider joining the Merkle Lab if you are fascinated by our RESEARCH goals, are willing to take risks and work hard to achieve them, and if your personal and professional interests are aligned with our PHILOSOPHY. Please reach out directly to me: fm436[at]medschl.cam.ac.uk
The People: To make discoveries that have lasting impact, we must work together and push each other to excel. The ethos of our team is to support discovery, innovation, and development. Our host institute, the IMS, has an open-plan research space to facilitate collaboration between clinicians and scientists working in diverse areas of metabolic science. We are also affiliated with the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, where we regularly interact with other laboratories engaged in stem cell-based disease modelling.
The Place: The University of Cambridge is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world and has produced luminaries from Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, to Francis Crick and Steven Hawking. We are fortunate that our lab is located in the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, which is densely populated with excellent research institutes such as the LMB which boasts a dozen Nobel laureates and biotech partners such as AstraZeneca. We also collaborate closely with group from the nearby Sanger Institute and EMBL-EBI, to harness the power of genomics and bioinformatics to address previously unassailable biological questions. The Cambridge Colleges provide a stimulating social and intellectual environment and the city of Cambridge is beautiful, and a fantastic place to raise a family. London is less than an hour away and most cities in Europe are within a two-hour plane trip.
We are not currently recruiting for funded postdoctoral positions, but please see below the numerous options for studentships and postdoctoral fellowships. We’re always happy to hear from you, so please feel free to reach out directly if you have specific questions.
Postdoctoral Positions: If you are seeking a position as a postdoc in the Merkle lab, please send email to Florian: 1) a cover letter describing why you are interested in working in our group and what you hope to contribute, and 2) your CV complete with a full list of publications and contact information for three references.
Funding opportunities for early career postdocs include:
- Sir Henry Wellcome Fellowship
- Herchel-Smith Postdoctoral Fellowship
- EMBO Long-term Fellowship for applicants from EMBC member states
- MRC Skill Development Fellowship
- UKRI Future Leader Fellowship
- Marie Curie Fellowship
- Newton International Fellowship for outstanding applicants from outside the US, UK, or EU. Deadline Feb/Mar 2024
- Career Development Fellowship targeted to early career scientists of Black heritage. This award is open to applicants from around the world, and generously covers 4 years of salary, as well as visa and relocation costs. You must have a PhD at the time your award starts, but have less than 24 months of postdoctoral experience. Please contact Florian by early December 2023 to give you sufficient time to secure all the necessary approvals before the final deadline of 24th Jan 2024.
- Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship. This scheme offers a recognised first step into an independent research career for outstanding early career scientists who require a flexible working pattern due to personal circumstances, such as caring responsibilities and/or health-related conditions.
Graduate Students: We are always looking for bright and enthusiastic students. If you have been admitted to a graduate programme at the University of Cambridge or have already secured your own funding to support your studies, please email me and I will be happy to meet with you. If you have not yet secured funding or acceptance to a graduate programme, you can find some opportunities listed below.
Fullly funded PhD studentships: We’re currently (autumn 2023) offering projects via funded schemes. Please note that fees for overseas students are not covered in all instances.
- One option is a fully-funded (for both UK and overseas students) BBSRC studentship (Deadline 5th December, 2023), where you can select amongst a wide variety of offerings. If you’re interested in our group, please navigate to the website and select the ‘Standard studentship’ and the ‘Bioscience for an integrated understanding of health’ theme to find us.
- If you are interested in understanding how diet can influence the rate of protein aggregation across different tissues and how that relates to human neurodegeneration, there’s a funded PhD opportunity with me and Prof. Sir David Klenerman that closes on the 30th November, 2023. David’s group has developed super-resolution microscopy-based methods to quantify aggregates of amylin, tau, beta-amyloid, and other proteins, as well as imflammasomes, which is an exciting opportunity for us to study primary human samples as well as mice treated with different diets to explore mechanistic links between metabolic and neurodegenerative disease.
- We also offering a funded project to explore the biology of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) in the context of cancer when mutated and appetite regulation in the normal brain. The project will be jointly supervised by ALK cancer specialist Suzanne Turner (@Sdt36Suzanne), as part of a CRUK PhD studentship that has two 15-week rotation projects, one of which would likely become your PhD project. Details of our project are here.
- The new Doctoral Training Program in Medical Research from the school of Clinical Medicine also offers an opportunity for you to join our group and help generate new types of hypothalamic cell types that regulate essential behavioural and physiological processes, such as feeding, drinking, stress, sleep, and reproduction. The details of our funded project is here, and you can apply by the 5th of December, 2023.
PhD opportunities requiring some funding support. We’re offering a variety of potential PhD projects though the PhD in Clinical Biochemistry scheme, some of which are listed here. If after discussing with Florian he is happy to accept you in principle if you are able to secure your own funding and pass the interview process, you can apply here. More details on PhD opportunities are listed below and on the IMS’s PhD page, which also has details for funding opportunities that you should carefully review and are described in greater detail here. Some of these include:
- Gates Cambridge Scholarship.
- Marshall Scholarship
- NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholar’s Program
- NIH Wellcome Trust Programme
- Herchel Smith Research Studentships
- Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds
- MRC DTAP
Master’s Students: We frequently have Master’s students from several programmes in the University. These include
- The IMS has a brand-new taught Master’s program that combines coursework and 32 weeks of a research project in a lab of your choice. Applications are now open, and are due by the 1st of May, 2024 for a 1st October 2024 start, but students are strongly encouraged to apply for funding to support their studies, which have deadlines much earlier (e.g. 5th December).
- There is also an MPhil by research you may wish to consider
Undergraduate Students: If you are currently an undergraduate student at one of the Cambridge Colleges and hope to work in the Merkle Lab, please review the RESEARCH and PHILOSOPHY sections to determine if these align with research experience you hope to have. You should have a serious intent to pursue research and willing to spend at least 10 hours per week in the laboratory during the school year. If your are interested, please email me with a description of your prior research experience, relevant coursework, and future goals. Summer students will be considered if you have previous research experience and if are able to secure funding to support your time in the laboratory. Some opportunities are:
- Amgen Scholars Programme
- BBSRC Research Experience Placement
- We actively participate in the Experience Postgraduate Life Sciences (EPLS) widening participation program, and have hosted two excellent students in the past two years. The program offers a fully paid internship and housing courtesy of Corpus Christi College to undergraduates from under-represented backgrounds. Internships provide students an opportunity to see what research is really like, to build lasting friendships within their cohort of students, and culminate in a symposium and celebratory formal dinner.