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SWBio DTP PhD project: Role of microRNAs in regulating sex differences in stress responsive neurocircuitry across the lifespan


Project Description

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio DTP). The DTP offers an interdisciplinary research training programme delivered by a consortium comprising the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Exeter, Cardiff University and Rothamsted Research, alongside six regional associate partners: Marine Biological Association, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Swansea University, UCB Pharma, University of the West of England and SETsquared Bristol. The partnership has a strong track record in advancing knowledge through high quality research and teaching, in collaboration with industry and government. For more information about the DTP, see https://www.swbio.ac.uk/.

Studentships are available for entry in September/October 2020.

All SWBio DTP projects will follow a structured 4-year PhD model, combining traditional project-focussed studies with a taught first year which includes directed rotation projects.

Overview of this project:

Lead supervisor:
Prof Mark Lindsay, Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology (University of Bath) https://researchportal.bath.ac.uk/en/persons/mark-lindsay
Co-supervisors: Dr Sarah Bailey, Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology (University of Bath) https://researchportal.bath.ac.uk/en/persons/sarah-bailey
Prof Rosalind John, School of Biosciences (Cardiff University) https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/people/view/81202-john-rosalind

The ability of an organism to respond appropriately to stress is essential for survival in its’ environment. This project will investigate the role that microRNAs play in the dynamic transcriptional regulation of genes in sexually dimorphic parts of the brain involved in responding to stress.

Sex differences are evident in the response to stress both hormonally and behaviourally. For example, in rodents, females have a more robust stress hormone response to stress than males. Although the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) mediates the body’s primary neuroendocrine response to a range of stressors, multiple brain regions are involved in mediating both the rapid and long-term behavioural, physiological and molecular adaptations to stress. Micro RNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs that are post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression. Emerging evidence shows that the neonatal brain miRNA environment is sexually dimorphic and responsive to gonadal sex hormones. Whether this is also true across the lifespan is not yet known but could be a critical determinant of sexual dimorphism in the response to stress.

The approach will be to combine transcriptomic analysis and bioinformatics with an in vivo systems neuroscience approach to studying behavioural stress responses in sexually dimorphic brain regions across the lifespan. Full training will be provided in all bioinformatics and molecular techniques, as well as completion of Home Office licence training for animal studies. PhD students are actively encouraged to attend scientific meetings and publish their data.

PhD students will join a vibrant group of researchers in the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology at Bath and have the opportunity to collaborate with Prof Rosalind John in the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University. Through journal clubs and other informal activities students support one another with shared experiences and expertise. There are also excellent opportunities for generic skills training e.g. public engagement activities. At the end of this PhD you will have acquired the skills to plan and undertake independent research and you will be equipped to follow a variety of different postgraduate career paths.

Candidate requirements:

Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology.

How to apply:

Applications should be submitted on the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Biosciences:
https://samis.bath.ac.uk/urd/sits.urd/run/siw_ipp_lgn.login?process=siw_ipp_app&code1=RDUBB-DT01&code2=0004

Please ensure that you quote the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section. You may apply for more than one project if you wish but you should submit a separate personal statement relevant to each one.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website: https://www.bath.ac.uk/guides/how-to-apply-for-doctoral-study/

Funding Notes

Studentships provide funding for a stipend at the standard UKRI rate (currently £15,009 per annum, 2019/20 rate), research and training costs and UK/EU tuition fees for 4 years.

UK and EU applicants who have been residing in the UK since September 2017 will be eligible for a full award; a limited number of studentships may be available to EU applicants who do not meet the residency requirement. Applicants who are classed as Overseas for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.

How good is research at University of Bath in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 54.20

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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