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MRC DiMeN Doctoral Training Partnership: Targeting brain insulin to improve cognition and metabolic health

   MRC DiMeN Doctoral Training Partnership

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  Dr J. Johnston, Dr B.M. Filippi, Dr S Clapcote  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Leeds United Kingdom Data Science Neuroscience Physiology

About the Project

In addition to its actions on the liver and muscles, insulin plays important roles in the brain where it regulates appetite and whole-body energy flux and is implicated in cognitive performance. Insulin resistance increases with age is a major feature of type 2 diabetes and is thought to contribute to cognitive decline. Intranasally administered insulin provides a way to modulate brain insulin signalling and has positive effects on metabolism and cognition in both rodent models and humans. However, the mechanisms of how insulin acts on the brain to generate these beneficial effects is not yet known.

The successful candidate will work on a multidisciplinary collaborative project between the  Johnston lab (https://johnstonlab.org), Filippi lab (https://www.filippilab.com) and Clapcote lab (https://biologicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/school-biomedical-sciences/staff/44/dr-steven-clapcote) and will join the vibrant neuroscience research community at Leeds (https://neural.leeds.ac.uk). We have identified discrete brain regions that take up intranasally delivered insulin. The successful applicant will investigate which neuron types respond to insulin in these areas and how insulin sensing in these regions control metabolism and cognitive function. This project will provide new mechanistic insight into how insulin regulates cognitive and metabolic functions. This will ultimately contribute to dealing with the increasing burden of type 2 diabetes and age induced cognitive decline.

The successful applicant will be trained in a range of cutting-edge techniques including multiphoton imaging of neural activity, viral knockdown in targeted brain regions, metabolic and behavioural analysis and advanced data analysis techniques.

We are seeking a talented and highly motivated individual with a strong interest in neuroscience. The successful applicant will have some research experience and a minimum of a 2:1 degree (or overseas equivalent) in neuroscience or a related discipline. Some experience with programming (e.g. Python, Matlab or similar) would be advantageous, though training will be provided.

Interested candidates should contact Jamie Johnston ([Email Address Removed]) for an informal discussion.

Benefits of being in the DiMeN DTP:

This project is part of the Discovery Medicine North Doctoral Training Partnership (DiMeN DTP), a diverse community of PhD students across the North of England researching the major health problems facing the world today. Our partner institutions (Universities of Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, York and Sheffield) are internationally recognised as centres of research excellence and can offer you access to state-of the-art facilities to deliver high impact research.

We are very proud of our student-centred ethos and committed to supporting you throughout your PhD. As part of the DTP, we offer bespoke training in key skills sought after in early career researchers, as well as opportunities to broaden your career horizons in a range of non-academic sectors.

Being funded by the MRC means you can access additional funding for research placements, international training opportunities or internships in science policy, science communication and beyond. See how our current DiMeN students have benefited from this funding here: http://www.dimen.org.uk/overview/student-profiles/flexible-supplement-awards

Further information on the programme and how to apply can be found on our website:


Funding Notes

Studentships are fully funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) for 4yrs. Funding will cover UK tuition fees, stipend and project costs as standard. We also aim to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK and are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will be awarded to exceptional candidates only, due to the competitive nature of this scheme. Please read additional guidance here: http://www.dimen.org.uk/how-to-apply/eligibility-funding
Studentships commence: 1st October 2022
Good luck!
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