Identifying the mechanisms via which the mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt) protects the stressed heart

We seek to identify and characterise the signalling cascades involved in the ATF5-mediated protective effects of the UPRmt in the stressed heart.

Start date
1 January 2022
36 months
Application deadline
Funding source
The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey and Kent, Surrey, Sussex ARC
Funding information

Tax free stipend for 36 months at UKRI rate

UK/EU tuition fee waiver


Despite recent therapeutic advances, there are ~26 million patients worldwide (1 million in the UK) estimated to suffer from heart failure, and 5-year mortality associated with the disease is currently reaching 50% in the UK. To improve our therapies against heart failure, new treatments beyond targeting neurohumoral activation and/or cardiac rhythm disturbance are required, which are only possible by increasing our understanding of the basic biology that underlies the disease.

We recently described the cardioprotective effects of the mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt) in the failing heart. This project is designed to delineate the molecular mechanisms via which the UPRmt exerts its protective effects in the stressed heart. Knowledge obtained from this project can be used to design next generation candidate interventions against heart failure.

1. Smyrnias, I. et al. Cardioprotective Effect of the Mitochondrial Unfolded Protein Response During Chronic Pressure Overload. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 73, 1795–1806 (2019).

2. Smyrnias, I. The mitochondrial unfolded protein response and its diverse roles in cellular stress. Int J Biochem Cell Biology 133, 105934 (2021).

Eligibility criteria


  • BSc degree or European equivalent in a relevant discipline (i.e. biological sciences, biomedicine, physiology, medicine)
  • Previous experience with cell culture techniques
  • Previous experience with fundamental molecular biology/biochemistry and imaging techniques (i.e. working with DNA/RNA samples, real time PCR, western blotting, immunofluorescence)
  • Excellent communication and organisational skills 
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team.


  • MSc or MRes degree in a relevant discipline (i.e. biological sciences, biomedicine, physiology)
  • Previous experience with cardiac physiology research projects
  • Previous experience with isolation of primary cells.

This studentship is available to UK and EU students only. 

IELTS requirements: 6.5 overall with at least 6.0 in any component.

How to apply

Applicants are advised to contact the primary supervisor Dr. Ioannis Smyrnias, for informal enquiries before applying for the studentship.

Applications must be submitted via the Veterinary Medicine and Science PhD programme page

Application deadline

Contact details

Ioannis Smyrnias

Studentships at Surrey

We have a wide range of studentship opportunities available.