NIHR Exeter BRC PhD Studentship - Using iPSC-derived organoid models to identify novel therapeutic targets

   College of Life and Environmental Sciences

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  Dr Thomas Piers, Prof J MIll  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Research Theme:

Neurodegeneration theme

Programme of Study:

MPhil/PhD Neuroscience, within the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.

Project description:

Microglia are inextricably linked to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathogenesis and are now widely regarded as the essential cell type affecting disease progression, but currently no AD treatments specifically target these cells. Furthermore, studying this cell type in situ in human is currently confined to low resolution imaging or post-mortem tissue. Development of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) model brain organoids allow us to study microglial biology in the context of other cell types and in the context of disease through the inclusion of genetic risk variants. This project, aligned with the NIHR Exeter Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), will aim to identify new therapeutic targets aimed at beneficially modulating microglia, and that can be rapidly translated into the clinic. This will be done through a combination of complex cell culture techniques, genetic engineering, genomics, bioinformatics, and imaging enabling the student to develop both analytical and laboratory skills. Drug repurposing strategies or collaborations with external groups including the Drug Discovery Alliance will also support any potential clinical translation. There will also be fantastic opportunities to involve public and patient groups in the evolution of the project and for further specialist development through the attendance on bioinformatics or genetic engineering courses.

NIHR Exeter BRC Commitment

This Studentship will be nested within the National Institute of Health and Care Research Exeter Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR Exeter BRC), hosted by the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with the University of Exeter and in collaboration with South West NHS organisations. The first of its kind for the South West peninsula, the Centres fundamental objective is to improve health outcomes for patients and the public by translating scientific breakthroughs into potential new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies.

This studentship will provide the opportunity to work with world-leading researchers and have access to state-of-the-art facilities. The NIHR Exeter BRC are committed to developing and nurturing a diverse and rich pipeline of talented researchers by equipping them with the knowledge and skills to excel and contribute significantly to the local and national economy via the delivery of high-quality and impactful translational biomedical research. Expertise will be harnessed from across the partnership to deliver the best possible training and career development opportunities, with the student provided the opportunity to be embedded in a rich research culture, with a growing body of early career researchers.

We are delighted to have already recruited some exceptionally talented researchers at various career stages to our NIHR Exeter BRC, including Senior Investigator Fellows, Translational Fellows and our first cohort of PhD students who started with us in September.

Fees and funding

For eligible students, the studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £18,622 (in alignment with standard Research Council UK rate) for 3 years full-time, in addition to a Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG). The student would be based at the Research, Innovation, Learning and Development (RILD) building based at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital site in Exeter, near to the St Lukes Campus, with support from the Living Systems Institute (LSI) on the Streatham Campus.

*Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend. International applicants need to be aware that you will have to cover the cost of your student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to do a PhD.

The conditions for eligibility of home fees status are complex and you will need to seek advice if you have moved to or from the UK (or Republic of Ireland) within the past 3 years or have applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme


The closing date for applications is midnight on Friday 12th January 2024.

Interview panels will be held virtually in late January/ early February 2023 for a September 2024 start.

Contact details

If you would like to discuss the studentships further, please contact the primary supervisor as stated in the advert. If you have any queries surrounding the application process or the BRC more generally, please contact Dr Sophie Gould (NIHR Exeter BRC Training and Events Manager) at [Email Address Removed].

For further information and to apply please follow this link - Award details | Funding and scholarships for students | University of Exeter

Biological Sciences (4)

Where will I study?

 About the Project