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Effects of diet, exercise and anti-obesity treatment on adult neural stem cells and neurogenesis

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  • Full or part time
    Dr D Petrik
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This project will investigate the effects of environmental interventions on the resident neural stem cells in the adult brain. The stem cells generate new neurons in the adult brain during the process of adult neurogenesis. This process takes place in discrete locations called neurogenic niches. The new neurons are involved in learning and memory and in regulation of mood and appetite. The goal of this project will be to compare the effects of diet-inducing obesity, voluntary running and anti-obesity treatments in mice on the stem cells and new neurons in different neurogenic niches from the hippocampus and the hypothalamus. Specifically, the project will have two major aims. First, to determine the effects of altered metabolism or specific oligopeptides on proliferation and differentiation capacity of primary neural stem cells in vitro. Stem cell will be isolated from the two neurogenic niches and exposed to different metabolic substrates or paracrine acting oligopeptides. Their biology will be studied by the time-lapse imaging in vitro. Second, to elucidate the individual or combined effects of diet-induced obesity and exercise or anti-obesity treatment on stemness and cell lineages in vivo. Brain sections will be labelled by cell-specific markers to identify how the interventions modify the type of cell progeny generated from the stem cells. The projects will utilize techniques from molecular and cell biology, imaging and working with mice as model animals. Experience with primary cell cultures, immunohistochemistry and animal work would be beneficial.

This project will take place in the laboratory of Dr. David Petrik. Dr. Petrik is a senior lecturer in the School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom.

Entry requirements:
Applicants should have obtained, or be about to obtain a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree in the relevant subject. Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to meet the minimum University requirements (e.g. 6.5 IELTS). Please see our English Language Requirements guidance for more details.

How to apply:
Applicants should apply to the Doctor of Philosophy in Biosciences with a start date of April 2020.
In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select ’I will be applying for a scholarship/grant’ and specify that you are applying for advertised funding from [title of studentship].

Funding Notes

This PhD project is funded for 3 years by the School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, United Kingdom.
The successful applicant will have the full UK/EU tuition fees covered and will receive the full UKRI-level maintenance stipend for the 3 years of the project.


EISCH, A. J. & PETRIK, D. 2012. Depression and hippocampal neurogenesis: a road to remission? Science, 338, 72-5.
PETRIK, D. & ENCINAS, J. M. 2019. Perspective: Of Mice and Men - How Widespread Is Adult Neurogenesis? Front Neurosci, 13, 923.
PETRIK, D., JIANG, Y., BIRNBAUM, S. G., POWELL, C. M., KIM, M. S., HSIEH, J. & EISCH, A. J. 2012. Functional and mechanistic exploration of an adult neurogenesis-promoting small molecule. FASEB J, 26, 3148-62.
PETRIK, D., MYOGA, M. H., GRADE, S., GERKAU, N. J., PUSCH, M., ROSE, C. R., GROTHE, B. & GOTZ, M. 2018. Epithelial Sodium Channel Regulates Adult Neural Stem Cell Proliferation in a Flow-Dependent Manner. Cell Stem Cell, 22, 865-878 e8.

How good is research at Cardiff University in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 54.70

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

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