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  How do hormones regulate memory?

   Department of Biomedical Sciences

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Deficiencies of thyroid hormone are common throughout the globe. Adult-onset hypothyroidism is prevalent in around 8-10% of the population and is associated with reproductive disorders, anxiety, depression and impairment of memory. Currently, the intervention is to give back thyroid hormone in the form of levothyroxine but this has only been partially successful. Thyroid hormone is a hormone that signals via different thyroid hormone receptors, the thyroid hormone receptor (TR)a and TRb. Both receptors are present in areas of the brain such as the hippocampus and are thought to be important for the ability of the brain to make new neurons – a process called adult hippocampal neurogenesis - as well as for memory and anxiety regulation. However, the mechanisms by which thyroid hormones promote neurogenesis remain underexplored. The student will determine the contribution of each TR isoform to spatial memory and to adult hippocampal neurogenesis using unique mouse models where either TRa1 or TRb1 is conditionally deleted in the hippocampus. The student will also test if growth factors are important for thyroid hormones to restore neurogenesis and spatial memory in the hypothyroid mouse. Students interested in how hormones regulate memory and/or in the pathological consequences of hypothyroidism mediated by any agent, including endocrine disrupters, will be a good fit for this project. Understanding how TRs signal in the brain to regulate memory and mood is crucial in the design of new therapeutics.  


Endocrine/Neuroscience Group

The student will be part of a vibrant neuroendocrine group with an opportunity to network with overseas collaborators. Dr Vasudevan supervises or co-supervises 8 students in interdisciplinary projects ranging from oscillations in biology, autism and regulation of behaviour. The student will learn several experimental techniques including immunoassays, molecular biological techniques, cell culture, manipulation of genetically modified mouse models and behavioural analysis. For students interested in mentoring, there are opportunities to serve as co-advisors in summer undergraduate projects.


School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading:

The University of Reading, located west of London, England, provides world-class research education programs. The University’s main Whiteknights Campus is set in 130 hectares of beautiful parkland, a 30-minute train ride to central London and 40 minutes from London Heathrow airport. 

Our School of Biological Sciences conducts high-impact research, tackling current global challenges faced by society and the planet. Our research ranges from understanding and improving human health and combating disease, through to understanding evolutionary processes and uncovering new ways to protect the natural world. In 2020, we moved into a stunning new ~£60 million Health & Life Sciences building. This state-of-the-art facility is purpose-built for science research and teaching. It houses the Cole Museum of Zoology, a café and social spaces.

In the School of Biological Sciences, you will be joining a vibrant community of ~180 PhD students representing ~40 nationalities. Our students publish in high-impact journals, present at international conferences, and organise a range of exciting outreach and public engagement activities.

During your PhD at the University of Reading, you will expand your research knowledge and skills, receiving supervision in one-to-one and small group sessions. You will have access to cutting-edge technology and learn the latest research techniques. We also provide dedicated training in important transferable skills that will support your career aspirations. If English is not your first language, the University's excellent International Study and Language Institute will help you develop your academic English skills.

The University of Reading is a welcoming community for people of all faiths and cultures. We are committed to a healthy work-life balance and will work to ensure that you are supported personally and academically.


Applicants should have a good degree (minimum of a UK Upper Second (2:1) undergraduate degree or equivalent) in Biological Sciences or a strongly-related discipline. Though not needed, behavioural or cell biology experience is a plus. Applicants will also need to meet the University’s English Language requirements. We offer courses to help meet these requirements. Pre-sessional English programme - International Study and Language Institute at the University of Reading With a commitment to improving diversity in science and engineering, we encourage applications from underrepresented groups.

How to apply:

Submit an application for a PhD in Biological Sciences at


Further information:



Dr. Nandini Vasudevan. Email at:

Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26) Psychology (31)

Funding Notes

We welcome applications from self-funded students worldwide for this project.
If you are applying to an international funding scheme, we encourage you to get in contact as we may be able to support you in your application.


Please see references on webpage:

Register your interest for this project

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