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EASTBIO: Investigating the impact of maternal inflammation on brain development using human brain organoids.

   School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition

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  Dr Daniel Berg, Prof M Collinson  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This fully funded, 4-year PhD project is part of a competition funded by the BBSRC EASTBIO Doctoral Training Partnership.

The overarching goal of this project is to investigate the impact of maternal inflammation on cortical development using brain organoids from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Increasing evidence from epidemiological studies suggests an association between maternal inflammation and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders or schizophrenia, indicating the potential role of the activated neuroimmune system in the disturbance of neurodevelopment. Animal models. such as mice, have been used to validate these findings, but since there are many differences in cell composition and molecular signature between mouse and human brain, a human cell-based model system is needed to examine how embryonic inflammation affects human brain development. In this project, we will use a microglia-cortical organoid co-culture system to model maternal inflammation and examine how induced neuroinflammation affects neural stem cell behaviour and neuronal maturation at the cellular and molecular level. To achieve this goal, we will employ immunohistochemistry and single-cell RNA sequencing.

The student who will work on this project will learn techniques such as iPSCs and organoid culture, immunohistochemistry and transcriptomic analysis using single-cell RNA-sequencing. The student will also obtain knowledge in the field of stem cell biology, brain development and neurodevelopmental disorders. The ideal candidate should have some experience with cell and molecular biology and motivation to learn and develop bioinformatic skills.



  • Applicants should hold a minimum of a 2:1 UK Honours degree (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject. Those with a 2:2 UK Honours degree (or international equivalent) may be considered, provided they have (or are expected to achieve) a Distinction or Commendation at master’s level.
  • All students must meet the eligibility criteria as outlined in the UKRI guidance on UK, EU and international candidates. This guidance should be read in conjunction with the UKRI Training Grant Terms and Conditions, esp. TGC 5.2 & Annex B.



  • Please visit this page for full application information: How to apply | eastbio (
  • Please send your completed EASTBIO application form, along with academic transcripts to Alison Innes at: [Email Address Removed]
  • Two references should be provided by the deadline using the EASTBIO reference form. References should be sent to [Email Address Removed]
  • Unfortunately, due to workload constraints, we cannot consider incomplete applications.
  • CV's submitted directly through a FindAPhD enquiry WILL NOT be considered.

Funding Notes

This fully funded, 4-year PhD project is part of a competition funded by the EASTBIO BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership.
This opportunity is open to UK and International students (The proportion of international students appointed through the EASTBIO DTP is capped at 30% by UKRI BBSRC).
EASTBIO studentships includes a UKRI doctoral stipend (estimated at £17,668 for the 2023/2024 academic year), plus a training grant of £5,000 per annum (year 1-3; £1,500 year 4) and a travel/conference grant of £230 per annum.
EASTBIO does not provide funding to cover visa and associated healthcare surcharges for international students.
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