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Does damage to brain blood vessels cause Alzheimer’s disease?

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, May 08, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Supervisor: Catherine Hall (

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, but currently there is no effective way of stopping its progression. Understanding the changes in the brain that first trigger the processes leading to Alzheimer’s disease will be vital to develop interventions that could prevent and cure the disease. Many risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, such as stroke, altered blood pressure and the main genetic risk factor, APOE4, are associated with a decrease in blood flow to the brain. This decrease in the brain’s blood supply may therefore be an important factor that produces Alzheimer’s disease. This project will investigate whether this is the case, by looking at how APOE4 affects how neurons and blood vessels function, and how vascular changes promote the build-up of beta amyloid, one of the dysfunctional proteins that accumulates in Alzheimer’s disease. The project will use cutting edge multiphoton imaging and behavioural tests to track vascular, neuronal and cognitive function in vivo, in a novel mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as immunohistochemistry, confocal imaging and biochemical analyses of post mortem rodent tissue.

Doctoral Tutor role:
The successful candidate will also be offered a 3 year fixed term contract, as a Doctoral Tutor, to teach up to 165 hours per year (0.1FTE Grade 5.1 (currently £25,482 p.a. pro rata), covering contact time, preparation, and marking). Doctoral Tutors will begin teaching in the second term of their studies. They will be encouraged to study for a formal teaching accreditation (Associate of the Higher Education Academy), including enrolling on a ‘starting to teach’ module in the first term before they begin teaching. Candidates who demonstrate suitability for, and express interest in, the additional Doctoral Tutor role will be preferred.

• This award will only pay fees at the Home/EU rate.
• Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Master’s degree in Psychology, Neuroscience or a related discipline.
• A level Maths and some experience in programming for data analysis are an advantage.
• The University of Sussex believes that the diversity of its staff and student community is fundamental to creative thinking, pedagogic innovation, intellectual challenge, and the interdisciplinary approach to research and learning. We celebrate and promote diversity, equality and inclusion amongst our staff and students. As such, we welcome applications from all, regardless of personal characteristics or background.

How to apply:
• Please submit your application online at for the ’PhD in Psychology’ programme for September 2019.
• In the ’Supervisor suggested by applicant’ section, please put ’Hall’.
• In the ’Proposed source of funding’ section, please put ‘Psychology Doctoral Research Studentship’
• FAQs can be found in ’Applying for a PhD in Psychology at the University of Sussex for 2019 Entry’ at

Candidates should provide:
• A research proposal that outlines your knowledge of the research area, hypotheses that could be addressed in your PhD, and an outline of potential methods. Your answer should not exceed 2 pages including references, be set at minimum 10-font type with margins a minimum of 1cm.
• Current degree transcript(s) with full details of performance on all completed courses.
• Two academic references.
• An up-to-date CV.
• A document summarising any teaching experience you have and illustrating your suitability for a Doctoral Tutor role.

Contact us:
For queries with respect to the application process:
To discuss the details of this PhD project further:

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will be awarded a stipend for 3.25 years (tied to the UKRI studentship rates, currently £14,777 p.a.). UK/EU PhD fees and research/training costs are also covered.

The successful applicant will also be offered a 3 year fixed term contract, as a Doctoral Tutor, to teach up to 165 hours per year (0.1FTE Grade 5.1 (currently £25,482 p.a. pro rata), covering contact time, preparation, and marking).

International students may apply but must fund the difference between the Home/EU fees and International Fees (approximately £16,000 per year).


The School of Psychology is one of the largest centres for the study of psychology in the UK. We have nearly 50 academic faculty, about 100 research students and the same number of postgraduate students taking Master's degrees. Our undergraduate intake is about 400 a year, which gives us an academic community of over 1000 people working in a rich and supportive learning environment.

Psychology is a diverse discipline and our size means that we span major research areas in social, cognitive, biological, developmental and clinical psychology. Psychology at Sussex was rated 10th in the UK for research in the 2014 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). 91% of our research at Sussex is ranked as world-leading or internationally significant.

How good is research at University of Sussex in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 41.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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