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  MScR - Astrocyte mechanisms in depression

   School of Physiology, Pharmacology & Neuroscience

  Dr Valentina Mosienko  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Depression is the most common mental health illness affecting about 20% of the population at least once in their lifetime. Depression has been proposed to be a result of a decreased level of brain monoamines such as serotonin. In turn, therapeutic effects of most prescribed antidepressants are ascribed to their ability to elevate brain serotonin. However, there is growing evidence suggesting that mechanisms in depression and of antidepressants rely on signalling pathways independent of serotonin.

During this project, you will investigate effects of chronic stress and antidepressant treatment on the most common glial cell type in the brain called astrocytes. Astrocytes are implicated in depression: number of astrocytes is reduced in amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex in brain samples from both depressed patients and animal models of depression – astrocyte phenotype that can be reversed by a treatment with an antidepressant.

As part of this project, you will dissect brain area specific and serotonin-independent changes to astrocyte morphology, number and signalling as a response to stress and antidepressant treatment in a mouse model.

You will be embed within a multidisciplinary and dynamic team of researchers that employ animal models, in vitro and in vivo voltammetry and imaging, and RNAseq to investigate the role of astrocyte signalling pathways in stress response, depression, and antidepressant treatment. You will have ample opportunities to grow in areas of behaviour, molecular and cellular neuroscience, as well as to collaborate with bioinformaticians, present your work at a conference, and contribute to publishing a research paper. Please, do not hesitate to get in touch with me if you would like to further discuss this exciting project.

How to apply:

MSc by Research (MScR) is a 1-year research degree that provides an intensive lab-based training and a preparation for PhD study. You will carry out your studies as part of your research group – like a PhD student does. Towards the end of the year, you write up a thesis on your research and are examined on this. This degree suits students wanting to gain maximum research experience in preparation for PhD applications. 

We are keen to recruit a diverse range of students and to ensure our research is open to all. We particularly welcome applications from groups traditionally under-represented in life sciences research. Please check the University webpages for the current tuition fee information. Most MScR projects also require a bench fee. This varies depending on the research and your project supervisor can tell you the bench fee for the project.

PhD Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience | Study at Bristol | University of Bristol

You should apply to the Faculty of Life Sciences, School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, selecting the programme "Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience (MSc by Research)".

Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

This project is available to UK and international students who wish to self-fund their MScR or who have access to their own funding.
Please contact Dr Mosienko directly for information about the project and how to apply ().


Relevant literature – starter reading:
Murphy-Royal C et al. Glia, 2019; doi: 10.1002/glia.23610
Muller FE et al. Glia, 2021; doi: 10.1002/glia.23933
Torres-Platas SG et al. Molecular Psychiatry, 2016; doi: 10.1038/mp.2015.65

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

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

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