MRes studentship: Genetic engineering of cannabinoids biosynthesis for therapeutic use

MRes studentship with Bud and Tender and the Department of Clinical, Pharmaceutical and Biological Sciences, University of Hertfordshire.


Qualification type: MRes (Master of Research)

Subject area: Biochemistry

Location: Hatfield

Start date: 01 February 2022

Closing application date:  07 January 2022

Duration of studentship:  One year (full-time)

Project outline

This is an exciting opportunity to undertake a fully funded one year masters by Research project that is a collaboration between the University of Hertfordshire and Bud and Tender. This study aims to investigate the genetic engineering of hemp for producing cannabinoids for therapeutic use. Specifically, the goal of this project is to produce GE-cannabis cultivars with increased ratios of targeted therapeutically cannabinoids for medical and wellness treatment.

The student associate will work on explant micropropagation (in vitro tissue culture), Clustered Regularly Interspaces Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR), CRISPR/Cas9-equipped Agrobacterium-mediated Genome Editing (GE) and novel analytical and computational approaches developed and optimised for the genetic engineering of multiple cannabis cultivars.

Supervisor information

  • Principal Supervisor: Dr Cristina Barrero Sicilia, University of Hertfordshire
  • Second Supervisor: Dr Jacqueline Stair, University of Hertfordshire
  • Company Supervisor: Charles Clowes, Bud and Tender
  • External Supervisor: Dr Sergio Cerezo Medina, Rothamsted Enterprises

Entry requirements


  • a first- or second-class UK honours degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline within the sciences (i.e., Biosciences)
  • knowledge and practical experience of working within a scientific laboratory (weighing, pipetting, filtration, preparation of solutions)
  • ability to prioritise work independently as well as being part of a wider research group delivering research objectives
  • applicant must demonstrate their ability to project manage and undertake research through the preparation, setting up, conducting, and recording of experiment outcomes
  • excellent oral and written English communication skills, including the ability to communicate with clarity on complex information
  • good interpersonal skills
  • an ability to manage competing tasks whilst maintaining motivation and engagement
  • must be able to demonstrate sufficient breadth and depth of knowledge within the particular research field
  • the successful applicant will need to have the willingness and ability to undertake an industrial placement as and when appropriate, and to have a flexible approach to travel in order to attend training activities when required.


  • interest in the agricultural industry and working in a commercial environment
  • knowledge of statistical approaches to experimental design and analysis
  • experience working on plant molecular science and on in vitro culture plant systems
  • good molecular biology, technical and bioinformatic skills, focused on cloning systems and sequence analysis.

How to apply

Applicants must provide the following:

  • a completed application form (PDF - 0.25 Mb)
  • two academic references to be provided by referee directly to the doctoral college
  • copies of qualification certificates and transcripts
  • a copy of your passport photo page
  • certification of English language competence (minimum IELTS 6.5 or equivalent) for candidates for whom English is not their first language.

Please email completed applications to the Doctoral College, using the subject line: Genetic Engineering of Cannabinoids Biosynthesis for Therapeutic Use Associate application.

The closing date for applications is 07 January 2022. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an online interview week commencing 17 January 2022.

If you have an informal enquiry, please email Dr Cristina Barrero. Please note that applications sent to this address will not be considered.

Funding information

The collaboration is part-funded by the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The award includes cover for UK home tuition fees and subject to eligibility, a stipend at standard RCUK rates. For 2020-2021 this is set at £15,609.

Applicants must be UK nationals or have permanent UK residence status. Overseas candidates may be considered, however must cover the difference between domestic and international tuition fees and obtain a student visa.