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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 main 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 binding   different receptors, the thyroid hormone receptor (TR)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.  However, the mechanisms by which thyroid hormones promote neurogenesis remain underexplored.  In our model, hypothyroid mice show deficits in two spatial learning tasks that need intact hippocampal function.  These deficits are rescued by the administration of thyroid hormones or uniquely by, the TRb-selective agonist, GC-1. The student will determine the contribution of each TR isoform to spatial memory and to adult hippocampal neurogenesis by constructing unique mouse models where either TRa1 or TRb1 is conditionally deleted in the hippocampus. They will also use unique behavioural assays to test for hippocampal function and neurogenesis.  Lastly, the student will also test if growth factors are needed for thyroid hormones to restore neurogenesis and spatial memory in the hypothyroid mouse.  This will allow us to understand which TR is critical and the molecular mechanism by which thyroid hormones are required for memory.  Understanding how TRs signal in the brain to regulate memory and mood is crucial in the design of new therapeutics or dietary interventions that may be beneficial to individuals. 


Endocrine/Neuroscience Group 

The student will be part of a vibrant neuroendocrine group with an opportunity to network with overseas collaborators.  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 gaining experience of mentoring others, there are opportunities to serve as a co-advisor 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 essential, behavioural or cell biology experience is a plus.  Applicants will also need to meet the University’s English Language requirements. We offer pre-sessional courses that can help with meeting these requirements. 

How to apply: 

Submit an application for a PhD in Biomedical Sciences at

Further information: 


Dr. Nandini Vasudevan.  Email at:  

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:

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