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PhD Studentship in Motor Neuron Disease – Using a Primate Model to Test Novel Therapies

   Biosciences Institute

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  Dr Mark Baker, Prof S Baker  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Interested in neurodegenerative disorders? This PhD project will use a new primate model of motor neuron disease (MND) to explore disease mechanisms and test novel therapies and biomarkers of disease progression.

MND involves pathological changes and degeneration in the spinal motor neurons which innervate muscles, and corticospinal cells in the motor cortex. In primates (but not rodents) there are cortico-motoneuronal connections between these cells, which may be important in disease spread. To provide a better model of human disease, we recently developed a new way to model MND in macaque monkeys, a primate species with closely similar motor system to humans. Just like in humans with MND, in our model the protein TDP-43 is mislocalized to the cytoplasm of neurons, and TDP-43 pathology spreads to synaptically-connected cells. Here we will use this model to test if candidate compounds can slow disease spread, and also to validate novel biomarkers to indicate the onset of neuropathology prior to the development of clinical symptoms. The project will provide training in a wide range of different techniques, including primate behaviour, electrophysiology, molecular assays and quantitative histology. The work is carried out in Newcastle’s Movement Laboratory, comprising five research groups interested in all aspects of the neural control of movement. 

Number Of Awards


Start Date

24 April 2023

Award Duration

3 years


The William Leech Charity


Dr Mark Baker, Translational and Clinical Research Institute

Professor Stuart Baker, Biosciences Institute

Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree or international equivalent, in a relevant subject.

  • This award is available to home and international applicants. Successful international candidates will be required to make up the difference between home and international fees.
  • Successful EU applicants will be considered for the Vice-Chancellor’s EU Research Scholarship
  • English Language requirements: IELTS 6.5 overall, with 5.5 or more in each sub-skill.

How To Apply

To apply for a studentship, you must register and apply through the University’s Apply to Newcastle Portal

Once registered select ‘Create a Postgraduate Application’.

Use ‘Course Search’ to identify your programme of study:

programme code: 8420F

programme of study: PhD Biosciences (FT)'

You must provide the following information in the ‘Further Questions’ section:

  • A ‘Personal Statement’ - upload a document or write a statement directly in the form
  • The studentship code BI058 in the ‘Studentship/Partnership Reference’ field
  • When prompted for how you are providing your research proposal - select ‘Write Proposal’, and type the research project title from this advert - you do not need to upload a proposal.

 In addition, before you submit your application you will need to upload supporting documentation:

  • covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the studentship title, quote reference code BI058 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project 
  • degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualification if already completed. 

The application cannot be submitted without attaching all required documents/information.

Contact Details

Dr Mark Baker - [Email Address Removed]

Professor Stuart Baker - [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

100% of home tuition fees paid and an annual stipend (living expenses) of £17,071.
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