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Development of drug screening platforms for central nervous system regeneration

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, March 28, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Numerous neurological disorders are characterized by damage to the insulation surrounding nerve fibres, termed myelin, leading to nerve damage/ loss and cognitive, motor, and sensory deficits. Although myelin can be regenerated, this process often fails in disease (for example in cerebral palsy or progressive MS), and no therapies are currently approved to enhance this process. Identifying drug targets to develop new therapies is challenging, as the mechanisms underpinning successful regeneration of myelin are not well understood. Thus, the most rapid route to identifying pro-regenerative therapies is to screen drugs that have been approved for other indications. However, no platform currently exists for efficient screening of drugs in the injured mammalian brain without the use of a large number of experimental animals.

This PhD project will develop a screening platform that will allow for the first unbiased drug screen in injured mammalian brain specifically for regenerative drugs suitable for repurposing. The project will involve combining established brain explant models of brain injury with automated live-imaging and analyses to carry out a drug screen for myelin regeneration. This involves the use of transgenic animals, cell culture, live imaging, confocal microscopy, setting up imaging analyses pipelines, 3D printing, experimental design and statistical analyses. This approach will also serve as a proof-of-concept study for automated organ explant screening, and identify a drug that may eventually lead to a clinical trial for myelin regeneration. The focus of this lab, based at The Queen’s Medical Research Institute in the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating myelin regeneration and to identify new therapeutic strategies to support this process in disease. The lab is composed of the PI, a PhD student, 2 postdocs, and a research assistant. The student will be integrated into the Edinburgh Neuroscience program and the Edinburgh Centre for MS Research, and will participate in lab meetings from groups with shared research interests, local conferences/meetings, and international conferences.

Edinburgh BioQuarter, Little France Campus – interdisciplinary research
The MRC Centre for Reproductive Health (CRH) is located on the ground floor of the Queen’s Medical Research Institute on the University of Edinburgh’s Medical Campus at Little France in Edinburgh. The MRC CRH enjoys close collaborative links with the other Centres on the Little France Campus including the MRC Centre for Inflammation Research (MRC CIR); the British Heart Foundation Centre of Excellence in Cardiovascular Science (BHF CVS), the Clinical Research Imaging Centre (CRIC) and the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CRM). The campus has a large thriving postgraduate community.

How to Apply
Please submit:
• a curriculum vitae
• a ’statement of purpose’ - outlining your reasons for undertaking this programme of study and how you see it affecting your career plan
• arrange for references to be sent by 2 academic referees from their professional email accounts by application deadline using the format available to download from the link below

The closing date to apply for these studentships is Thursday 28 March 2019. Interviews will be held in Edinburgh in April 2019 with an anticipated start date in October 2019.
Applications should be sent to .

Funding Notes

Applicants are expected to have a good honours degree in the sciences (biological, chemical or physical), at least UK level of 2.1 or the equivalent from non-UK universities. A Master’s degree in a relevant subject would be an advantage.

The funding (3 year stipend and fees) beginning in October 2019 is available to applicants who are UK/EU graduates and who can demonstrate ordinary residence in the UK as defined by the MRC. (ie. UK/EU citizen who has been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship)
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How good is research at University of Edinburgh in Clinical Medicine?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 206.93

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