Project-linked PhD position with Prof Charles Spillane in the SFI Centre for Research Training in Genomics Data Science

Bioinformatics & molecular evolution guided genome editing in agriculture – the next frontier!

This is a project-linked PhD position in the SFI Centre for Research Training in Genomics Data Science. The student will be supervised by Prof Charles Spillane at the University of Galway and work on the research project “Bioinformatics & molecular evolution guided genome editing in agriculture – the next frontier!

Closing Date: 1700(IST)      04/11/2022

Entry Requirements:

Applicants will need to have a BSc or MSc (or equivalent) in a field related to genomics (biochemistry, biomedical science, genetics, medicine, microbiology) or in a strongly numerate or computational field (computer science, engineering, physics, statistics, mathematics). Students should have a strong aptitude for programming and data analysis. Non-native speaker applicants will need proof of written and spoken English language competence.

How to Apply:

Email the following as a single PDF file to

  • Cover letter
  • CV
  • Personal statement (max 600words and it should(1) describe your computational and data analytical skills (2)why you want to study Genomics Data Science and (3) why do you want to pursue a PhD

Project summary

Genome editing that allows precise targeted changes to be made to genomes on a routine basis is now poised to revolutionise all aspects of applied biology, including the future of crop improvement based on advances in genetics. Genome editing (using toolboxes such as CRISPR/Cas) can be used to generate loss-of-function, gain-of-function and hypomorphic alleles of genes through precise insertions of indels. In addition, genome editing can be used for insertions, deletions and rearrangements of large tracts of DNA. More recently, precise CRISPR base editing systems have been developed that allow precise targeted nucleotide substitutions to be made in coding and non-coding regions of plant genomes . In addition, it is now possible to conduct multiplex genome editing of plant genomes where multiple loci can be edited at once to generate novel genotypes in a precise and targeted manner.


The good news is that we now have the tools for precise genome editing at scale of plant and crop genomes that will drive the next frontier of crop improvement to meet the sustainability and resource challenges facing humanity. The SFI CRT PhD student on this project will develop bioinformatic systems and pipelines to identify genes that, if targeted, would have a major impact on plant biosynthetic pathways and growth characteristics. The project will harness genome sequencing data in both model and crop plants, combined with expression and epigenomic data, within a comparative gene orthology framework.