Early life perturbations and neurological disorders in later life

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr Fong Kuan Wong, Prof Stuart Allan  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The formation of the brain involves a complex choreography of events and players during development. While this process is continuous, there are however critical periods in which this process is particularly susceptible to perturbations. These perturbations can alter the transcriptional profiles of the various cell types in the developing cortex which in turn can have a long-lasting impact over the lifespan of the organism. This project will focus on the brain immune cells, microglia. Microglia are known to be involved in a myriad of neurodevelopmental processes ranging from the removal of cell debris, secretion of proliferative and survival signals to the formation and removal of synapses1. Alterations in their developmental trajectories, especially during these critical periods, have been linked to altered mice behaviour and function2.

The impact of alteration of microglia development in later life, however, is unknown. Consequently, the main aim of this project is to study the link between the development of microglia in mice and how changes in their development may influence their responses in stroke later in life. More specifically, this project aims to look at the transcriptional changes of microglia using the appropriate experimental paradigms. This project will take advantage of both laboratories’ expertise – the Wong’s lab on early postnatal development and the Allan lab’s experience on neuroinflammation and neurological disorders such as stroke. We will use a multidisciplinary approach such as fixed and live cell imaging, transcriptomics and molecular biology to unravel the mechanisms as to how development can shape microglial responses in neurological disorders such as stroke.

Entry Requirements

Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in Neuroscience or Molecular/Cellular/Developmental Biology. Candidates with previous laboratory experience in neuroscience are encouraged to apply.

How To Apply

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/). Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select the appropriate subject title.

For international students, we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/equality-diversity-inclusion/”

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 3 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/fees/).


Salter MW, Stevens B (2017) Microglia emerge as central players in brain disease. Nat Med 23, 1018-1027

Paolicelli RC, Bolasco G, Pagani F, Maggi L, Scianni M, Panzanelli P, Giustetto M, Alves Ferreira T, Guiducci E, Dumas L, Ragozzino D, Gross CT (2011) Synaptic pruning by microglia is necessary for normal brain development. Science 333(6048)1456-1458.
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