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Mapping variations in seizure susceptibility across the brain to identify seizure highways and hubs. (Neuroscience)

   Biosciences Institute

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  Prof A Trevelyan, Dr A Banerjee, Mr Chris Cowie  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Most epileptic seizures arise either in the neocortex or the hippocampus. The site of origin determines many key features of the condition, in each individual patient, including how seizures might be triggered, what premonitory symptoms and signs there are, and also, how it may be treated. The functional anatomy of the seizures – where the seizures start, and their path through the brain - is of particular importance when the epilepsy does not respond to medical management, because surgical treatments may help. In the past, this usually entailed resection of the pathological site, but the development of new brain-machine interface technology provides possibilities for entirely new surgical treatments. 

We will aim to identify “lines of weakness” through the brain, which represent preferential routes for seizure spread. If such “seizure highways” exist, these could be important targets for surgical treatment. We will test this hypothesis by examining seizure susceptibility simultaneously in different parts of a mouse’s brain, using single-photon widefield microscopy. When neurons are recruited to a seizure, Ca2+ floods into the cell, and this can be visualised using fluorescent Ca2+ indicators. We can use this technology to follow seizure activity in the living brain. We will also use optogenetics, a technique which uses light to control neuronal activity, to assay seizure susceptibility and control the spread of epileptic activity at particular sites, or “choke points”. In parallel studies, we will use our mouse knowledge to understand specific clinical cases, using recordings from surgically resected human brain tissue.

How to Apply:

Applications should be made by emailing [Email Address Removed] with:

  • a CV (including contact details of at least two academic (or other relevant) referees);
  • A covering letter – clearly stating your first-choice project, and optionally 2nd and 3rd ranked projects, as well as including whatever additional information you feel is pertinent to your application; you may wish to indicate, for example, why you are particularly interested in the selected project(s);
  • copies of your relevant undergraduate degree transcripts and certificates;
  • a copy of your passport (photo page).

A GUIDE TO THE FORMAT REQUIRED FOR THE APPLICATION DOCUMENTS IS AVAILABLE AT . Applications not meeting these criteria may be rejected.

In addition to the above items, please email a completed copy of the Application Form (as a Word document) to [Email Address Removed]  A blank copy of this form can be found at:

Informal enquiries may be made to [Email Address Removed]. The closing date for applications is 31st March 2022 at 5.00pm (UK time).

Funding Notes

PhD studentships are funded by Epilepsy Research UK (ERUK) for 3 years. Funding will cover tuition fees at the UK rate only, a Research Training and Support Grant and stipend (£15,609, 2021/22 rate). Applications are welcomed from students in all countries, although students from outside the UK will be required to pay full international fees. International students may be eligible for financial support to cover some or all of these fees.


Graham, Alberio et al,
Pracucci, Alberio et al,
Schevon et al (2012) Nature Communications, 3, 1060
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