Summer Internships 2015


Join one of our research teams

By becoming an intern, you will be a member of one of our research teams, and your work will be an important contribution to the group’s discoveries. Summer Internships are an invaluable opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a research group and to get career advice from fellow students and mentors. They are also a great way to meet new people; we are a small, friendly department, located in the heart of London.


Our Summer Internships are largely funded by the Wellcome Trust or other learned societies. In order to be eligible for a research bursary from these organisations you must be:

  • Taking an undergraduate science degree
  • Considering research as a career
  • Expecting to achieve a First Class or good Upper Second Class degree result (references will be required)
  • In the middle years of your degree e.g. the internship will take place in the Summer vacation before the start of the final year of study
  • Registered at a UK university for the majority of your degree (for most funding bodies)

Working hours and stipend

  • Working hours will be 35 hours per week for between 6-8 weeks.
  • You can expect to receive a stipend of between £180 and 200 per week during your internship if the application for funding is successful. There are also opportunities for unpaid internships.

How to apply

Potential interns should contact chosen project supervisors by the end of January 2015 at the latest or by the date specified for specific projects below. When contacting supervisors please forward a copy of your current CV and a brief statement outlining your interest in the project and your suitability.

Internship projects available for Summer 2015

Interactions of complement factor H with its ligands

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the main cause of blindness in the Western World in people over 55 years. Deposition of proteins, ions and lipids as "drusen" between the blood circulation and the retina is a major risk factor in AMD. Drusen usually grow in size and spread with age, disrupting the normal function of the retina, but may disappear. We recently discovered that the interaction between C-reactive protein and complement factor H may be a crucial factor in AMD (“Paper of the Week” in J.Biol.Chem. in January 2010). In order to prove further the involvement of intact complement factor H with this (or other ligands), the summer project will involve the purification of the homozygous high-risk and low-risk forms of factor H from patient plasma, then measurements will be made using surface plasmon resonance to define the conditions under which Factor H will interact with C-reactive protein (or other ligands) on sensor surfaces to which Factor H or C-reactive protein has been immobilised.

  • Project supervisor/ host lab
    Prof Steve Perkins, Structural Immunology Group, Molecular Interactions Facility.
  • Contact:
  • Requirements
    Ideally taking BIOC2004 and/or IMMU2001 (or equivalent if not a UCL student). Students should provide a transcript of their results when applying.
  • Deadline for students to make contact
    15 January 2015

Ion mobility mass spectrometry studies of alpha 1-antitrypsin

The protein alpha 1-antitrypsin (A1AT) is the most abundant circulating protease inhibitor. It is synthesised in the hepatocyte ER and its key target is the enzyme neutrophil elastase. Mutations in A1AT cause it to polymerise, with both loss- and gain-of-function effects. Polymers accumulated in the liver cause cirrhosis while the lack of circulating A1AT exposes the lungs to uncontrolled elastase activity, predisposing to emphysema. We will use advanced mass spectrometry (MS) methods, including native and ion mobility mass spectrometry, to study the wild type A1AT and variants implicated in disease. Additional studies will characterise the interaction of A1AT with small molecules and the stability of such complexes will be probed by means of tandem mass spectrometry.

  • Project supervisor/ host lab
    Dr Konstantinos Thalassinos
  • Contact
  • Requirements
    Essential: Background in molecular and structural biology.
    Desirable: Simple scripting in any programming language.
  • Deadline for students to make contact
    9 January 2015

Towards an understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying autism

Approximately 1 in 68 children are now thought to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Autism is a complex disorder and no single genetic factor can explain more than 1-2% of all cases. The availability of transcriptomic data from autistic brains gives us an unprecedented opportunity to understand better the differences between autistic and neurotypical individuals. In this project we will build on our current work analysing next generation sequencing data, and looking for signals in transcriptome data that can further our understanding of both the aetiology and pathology of autism.

  • Project supervisor/ host lab
    Dr Irilenia Nobeli
  • Contact
  • Requirements
    This project is entirely computational. The student should have a keen interest in computer-based work, and preferably, a familiarity with Unix/Linux. Knowledge of the statistical software R would be a great advantage. Although no programming experience is required, an aptitude for installing and running software, and for using computational tools on the web is expected.
  • Deadline for students to make contact
    No specific deadline






Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, University of London
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