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Live imaging of neural circuits mediating pain

Project Description

The aim of this project is to characterize the neuronal circuitry involved in pain signaling in genetically modified zebrafish expressing fluorescent reporters of activity. The complex nerve pathways that cause pain are still not fully understood and experiments to measure how large populations of nerve cells signal to each other are extremely difficult to conduct using rodents. The zebrafish is a small transparent fish that has a small brain and very simple neuronal circuitry, yet it can still perform various higher-level behavioral tasks and can detect painful stimuli. The zebrafish also has a simple genome so it can be genetically modified easily and previous studies have already shown that some of the pathways associated with pain signals in humans are also present in the fish.

Using state-of-the art whole animal two photon imaging, the student will investigate an injury-based model of pain in zebrafish expressing fluorescent reporters of neuronal activity (GCaMP6, iGluSnFr and SynaptopHlourin). Results of the project will provide new insight into the synaptic and circuitry changes that accompany nociception and generate a new animal model for evaluating analgesics.

Science Graduate School
As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

Funding Notes

The project is available to self-funded students who have achieved at least a 2.1 or equivalent honours degree in biosciences, computational neuroscience or systems engineers with a strong interest in neuroscience.

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.90

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

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