University of Leeds Featured PhD Programmes
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King’s College London Featured PhD Programmes

Investigating glial cell dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are often associated with chronic neuroinflammation and glial cell dysfunction that acts to exacerbate neuronal damage and loss of synapses. Progressive loss of white matter in the Alzheimer’s disease brain also highlights the importance of maintaining glial cell health into old age. In recent years, there has been significant progress in our understanding of the role of glial cells in maintaining neuronal homeostasis and promoting synaptic plasticity and memory formation. This project will provide the successful candidate the opportunity to advance our knowledge of the importance of neuron-glial communication in neurodegenerative disease.

Using interdisciplinary laboratory approaches, including fluorescence microscopy, electrophysiology and in vitro brain slice models of Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis, the PhD student will investigate how glial cells modulate synaptic plasticity and calcium signalling in cortical and hippocampal neural networks.

The main goal of this project is to identify novel molecular drug targets and pharmacological compounds that can attenuate neuroinflammation in the brain and potentially reverse ageing- and Alzheimer’s disease-related cognitive decline and memory impairment.

The successful PhD candidate will work in a multidisciplinary collaborative laboratory and receive training in a range of research techniques including primary cell culture, immunofluorescence, live-cell calcium imaging, electrophysiology and behavioural paradigms. Enthusiastic and motivated candidates who are passionate about conducting cross-disciplinary research in neuropharmacology, ageing and bioengineering are encouraged to contact Dr Graham Sheridan in the first instance to discuss the project in more detail.

The University of Nottingham is one of the world’s most respected research-intensive universities, ranked 8th in the UK for research power (REF 2014). Students studying in the School of Life Sciences will have the opportunity to thrive in a vibrant, multidisciplinary environment, with expert supervision from leaders in their field, state-of-the-art facilities and strong links with industry. Students are closely monitored in terms of their personal and professional progression throughout their study period and are assigned academic mentors in addition to their supervisory team. The School provides structured training as a fundamental part of postgraduate personal development and our training programme enables students to develop skills across the four domains of the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF). During their studies, students will also have the opportunity to attend and present at conferences around the world. The School puts strong emphasis on the promotion of postgraduate research with a 2-day annual PhD research symposium attended by all students, plus academic staff and invited speakers.


Velasco-Estevez et al. (2018) Infection augments expression of mechanosensing Piezo1 channels in amyloid plaque-reactive astrocytes. Front Aging Neurosci. 10:332.

Velasco-Estevez et al. (2019) Piezo1 regulates calcium oscillations and cytokine release from astrocytes. GLIA doi: 10.1002/glia.23709.

How good is research at University of Nottingham in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 90.86

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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