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  Seeing inside the brain of Alzheimer’s disease by cryoET

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The aim of this PhD project is to determine the in situ 3D molecular structures associated with AD to understand disease mechanisms and molecular pathways that can lead to the rational design of a mechanism-based therapy. To this end, we have developed methods combining mouse genetics, post-mortem brain and cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM). See new story here:

The methods used will include: i) Electron tomography and computational image processing. ii) experiments with mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease, post-mortem AD brain iii) Biochemical and genetic labelling. Applicants from all backgrounds, including physical, chemical and biological sciences, are encouraged to apply. Some experience with programming (e.g. Python, Matlab or similar) will be highly advantageous.

This project will generate information-rich molecular structures of the mammalian brain that are expected to provide new insights into disease mechanisms. Thus, the student undertaking this research will receive an interdisciplinary training at the cutting edge of structural biology, neuroscience, and dementia research. 


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

Prospective PhD students are encouraged to send an informal email enquiry to  in the first instance with a summary of what interests you about our research and any laboratory or computational experience to date. Please also attach your CV.

To formally apply for this project following discussion with Dr Frank 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.


Leistner C, Wilkinson M, Burgess A, Lovatt M, Goodbody S, Xu Y, Deuchars S, Radford SE, Ranson NA, Frank RAW.
The in-tissue molecular architecture of β-amyloid pathology in the mammalian brain
Nature Communications 14: 2833 (2023)

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