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BBSRC White Rose DTP Studentship - Linking microscale and macroscale changes in brain activity under the influence of psychedelics

   Department of Psychology

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  Dr Michael Okun, Dr C Howarth, Dr Jason Berwick  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Psychedelic substances, known to human societies for millennia, result in profound alterations of our state of consciousness. The way these drugs operate is far from understood, although in the last few decades significant progress has been made. Most of the research focused on the cellular mechanisms of action of such drugs, elucidating the receptors and molecular pathways that are involved. However, knowing how a neuron is affected when considered in isolation does not explain how the drug affects the intact brain, where neurons are highly interconnected. 

The aim of the present project is to further the systems-level understanding of the changes in cortical activity under the effect of classical psychedelics, exerted by activation of serotonergic 5-HT2A receptors. Our specific objective is to link the changes in spontaneous activity produced by 5-HT2A agonists at the level of single neurons to macroscale changes in brain activity. Towards this end, we will use high-density multi-electrode arrays, widefield imaging and advanced computational methods to examine brain activity in mice given psychedelic drugs. 

The PhD student will gain expertise in cutting-edge methods in systems and computational neuroscience and will help advance our understanding of a fundamental question at the intersection of neuropharmacology and systems neuroscience.

The BBSRC WR DTP and the University of Sheffield are committed to recruiting future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and we have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.

Note: Relocation costs for international students to the UK (visa, insurance, NHS fees, flights, etc) will be the responsibility of the student 

Entry Requirements: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions. 


Click to apply

Programme: PhD in Mechanistic Biology (4 years)

Start Date: 1st October 2023

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed mid February 2023

Funding Notes

This project is part of the BBSRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology. Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 4 years. The funding includes:
• Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£17,668 for 2022 starts)
• UK tuition fees (£4,596 for 2022)
• Research support and training grant (RSTG)
We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK and are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme

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