PhD: Developing novel biosensors for monitoring antibody production in CHO cells

The biopharmaceutical market is valued at over 100 billion dollars per year with the majority of therapeutic antibodies being manufactured in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. However, the process of generating monoclonal antibody (mAb) producing cell lines suitable for commercial manufacture remains challenging, time consuming and costly.

The cellular pathways underpinning antibody production in CHO cells have been extensively studied over the past 10 years; however, it is still unclear which pathways are most important for this process (protein folding, protein transport and cell stress). The aim of this PhD is to facilitate a deeper understanding of CHO mAb production cell lines by investigating the intracellular phenotypes of CHO cell lines which are producing and secreting monoclonal antibodies. Using the knowledge gained we aim to define a phenotypic fingerprint which correlates with favourable manufacturing and product quality characteristics. Once these fingerprints have been defined, a series of novel fluorescent tools for monitoring them will be developed and applied to our cell line development platform to allow screening for optimal mAb producing cell lines in the earliest stages of cell line development.

This project will provide training in advanced mammalian cell culture, fluorescence microscopy, flow cytometry and access to state of the art, high-throughput, automated systems for cell culture (Berkeley Lights Beacon) and phenotypic analysis (Intellicyt iQue)   in place at the GSK laboratories.

The studentship is available starting in October 2017. This project is collaboration between Dr Andrew Peden at the University of Sheffield and Dr Robyn Emmins, GSK Biopharmaceutical Process Research, Stevenage. Candidates should have a strong academic degree in the biological sciences. The successful candidate will be highly motivated, work effectively in a team setting and be interested in cell biology, protein trafficking and technology development.

For an informal discussion regarding the post, please contact:
Dr Andrew Peden
Dr Robyn Emmins

This is a BBSRC-funded Industrial CASE PhD studentship and is full time for four years. The stipend will be £17,553.00 per annum. Applicant eligibility criteria for the studentship can be found at and you must identify that you fit these criteria prior to application.