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Neuronal Basis of Musculoskeletal Pain

Project Description

The ability to perceive pain upon tissue or nerve injury is an important survival mechanism, but the development of chronic pain is debilitating. At least 1 in 5 people suffer from chronic pain, and musculoskeletal pain is the second largest contributor to global disability. Chronic musculoskeletal pain accompanies several diseases including osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and postsurgical pain, but chronic pain in these conditions remains poorly managed. A better understanding of physiological mechanisms of pain processing in the nervous system is fundamental to developing more effective and targeted analgesic drugs.

The aims of the studentship are to identify which sensory neurones mediate the transition of acute to chronic pain and to identify new therapeutic targets for analgesia. In this three year studentship, the candidate will apply a multidisciplinary approach using transgenic mice and models of musculoskeletal pain to investigate sensory pathways of nociception. For this programme of work, the candidate will develop expertise in western blotting, PCR and immunohistochemistry, as well as in vivo assays that include electrophysiological recordings of neuronal activity and behavioural paradigms.

The student will be supervised by Dr Sikandar (primary supervisor) and Professor Dell’Accio (secondary supervisor) based at the William Harvey Research Institute in Charterhouse Square. The WHRI offers a dynamic environment with a significant track record in translational research. The candidate will benefit from skills and experience of a large group of experts working on musculoskeletal diseases in the department of Experimental Medicine and Rheumatology at WHRI, as well as affiliation with the Versus Arthritis Centre for Osteoarthritis Pathogenesis at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology in Oxford.

The candidate should have a degree in a relevant area (e.g. Neuroscience, Physiology, Biology) and will be expected to have knowledge of neuroanatomy, molecular biology techniques and animal models of pain. A research-based MSc degree is not necessary but will be viewed favourably, and skills in animal models and/or molecular biology would be an asset.

Funding Notes

The studentship is fully funded for three years and will commence in October 2019. It includes tuition fees (only home/EU fees will be covered) and the student will receive a minimum tax free stipend per annum of £17,009. The studentship is open to all nationalities, however is subject to University's admissions requirements for PhD study.

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