Neuron-glia communication in peripheral somatosensory system and its role in nociception and pain

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The School of Biomedical Sciences invites applications from prospective postgraduate researchers who wish to commence study for a PhD in the academic year 2024/25.

This opportunity is open to candidates who have the means to self fund their studies or who have a sponsor who will cover this cost. We especially welcome applications that connect to the School's core research area: Neuroscience. 

Pathological pain is an unresolved health problem; it causes suffering and distress to those affected and puts enormous burden on the health services costing world’s economies billions. Despite remarkable progress, understanding of cellular and molecular mechanisms of many types of pain is still incomplete and the development of new therapies is inadequately slow. Thus, precise mechanistic understanding of pain signaling is urgently needed.

Peripheral somatosensory nerves detect and transmit sensory signals from bodily organs to the CNS, this is how we sense temperature, shape and texture of objects and also the dangerous/damaging conditions. The latter group of sensations is experienced as pain. Accumulating evidence suggests that peripheral nerves can also modulate the somatosensory transmission and one robust site for such modulation is the dorsal root ganglion (DRG). This project will investigate exciting new phenomenon discovered in the host laboratory (1, 2), whereby DRG’s intrinsic GABAergic inhibitory system was identified as a mechanism controlling peripheral processing of pain. The project will investigate communication between the neurons that give rise to somatosensory fibers with surrounding glia in the DRG and how such communication affects flow of somatosensory information. Successful candidate will use fluorescence imaging, electrophysiology, cell- and molecular biology methods to investigate such communication.

More about neuroscience research at Leeds can be found here:


Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline.

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Biological Sciences minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 6.0 overall, with no element less than 5.5
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 87 with the listening and reading element no less than 20, writing element no less than 21 and the speaking element no less than 22. 

How to apply

To apply for this project applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable)
  • Evidence of funding

To help us identify that you are applying for this project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert

For information about the application process please contact the Faculty Admissions Team:


Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

This project is open to applicants who have the funding to support their own studies or who have a sponsor who will cover these costs.


1. Du X, Hao H, Yang Y, Huang S, Wang C, Gigout S, Ramli R, Li X, Jaworska E, Edwards I, Deuchars J, Yanagawa Y, Qi J, Guan B, Jaffe DB, Zhang H, Gamper N. (2017) Local GABAergic signaling within sensory ganglia controls peripheral nociceptive transmission. J Clin Invest. 127:1741-1756
2. Hao H, Ramli R, Wang C, Liu C, Shah S, Mullen P, Lall V, Jones F, Shao J, Zhang H, Jaffe DB, Gamper N, Du X. (2023) Dorsal root ganglia control nociceptive input to the central nervous system. PLoS Biol. 21(1):e3001958.

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