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Structural basis of local Ca2+ ion-mediated signalling in the mammalian brain

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

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  Dr Rene Frank, Dr Viktor Lukacs, Dr J. Johnston  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

In the mammalian nervous system, Ca2+ ion second messengers mediate sensation and the encoding of long-term memory. The focal release of Ca2+ ions mediated by ion channels is thought to be the signal that drives local, long-lasting remodeling within synapses. The in situ structural basis for these fundamental mechanisms is presently unknown. To address this question, the candidate will exploit mouse genetics, calcium imaging and cryoEM to investigate the structure function and dynamics of focal calcium signals in the mammalian nervous system.

The methods will include: i) Electron tomography and computational image processing. ii) Cryogenic correlated light and electron microscopy (cryoCLEM) of cells and tissue cryo-sections. iii) In vivo labelling using viral vectors and calcium imaging. Applicants from all backgrounds in natural or physical sciences are encouraged to apply. Some experience with programming (Python, Matlab or similar) would be highly advantageous.

The University of Leeds has invested £12M in two 300 keV Titan Krios electron microscopes, a high-pressure freezer, and cryogenic fluorescence microscope. As a member of both the vibrant neuroscience division and Astbury Centre, this project will suit a candidate seeking a multidisciplinary training at the cutting-edge of neuroscience, biophysics, and structural biology.


You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper-second class honours degree or a MSc degree in a relevant subject.

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).

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

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • When asked for source of funding please make it clear that you are applying for a "White Rose BBSRC DTP Studentship"
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert. You can be considered for up to 3 projects in total.

If you have any further queries regarding this opportunity, please contact [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This opportunity is funded by the White Rose BBSRC DTP and will attract an annual tax-free stipend of £17,668 (based on the 2022/23 rate). The award will also cover academic fees. This opportunity is available to UK and International fee rated applicants. Please note that any expenses related to the relocation of international students to the UK (visa, insurance, NHS fees, flights, etc) would be their responsibility and are not covered by this award.

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