Student Projects

Iron homeostasis in developing red blood cells

Project Supervisor/s

This project is suitable for PhD students.


Most of the iron in the body is contained within red blood cells in the form of haemoglobin and is important for the transport of oxygen around the body. During development, red blood cells must have a highly efficient iron uptake pathway to obtain sufficient iron for haemoglobin synthesis. While many proteins involved in this pathway have been identified, recent data from our laboratory has shown that our understanding of this process is incomplete, particularly in utero. Many red blood cell disorders also detrimentally affect systemic iron homeostasis, although, again, the molecular pathways are incompletely understood.


There can be a range of aims associated with this project, broadly split into the following:

  1. Determining the molecules involved in red blood cell iron uptake in adulthood and during development.
  2. Investigating how red blood cell development affects whole body iron homeostasis.


Most of the studies to be carried out will use the mouse as a model, including several knockout strains, to determine the involvement of various proteins in red blood cell iron uptake. In vitro studies will also be carried out on primary haematopoietic stem cells differentiated in tissue culture.

Project Potential

Many red blood cell disorders are associated with pathological changes in iron homeostasis. A greater understanding of how developing red blood cells handle iron, and the associated effects on systemic iron levels, could lead to the development of more effective treatments for these conditions.

To apply for this project, please contact the project supervisor/s

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