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Targeting TRPV1 channels for the restoration of microvascular barrier function in diabetes

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  • Full or part time
    Dr T Curtis
    Prof A Stitt
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description


Despite the recent advent of VEGF inhibitors, there remains a clear potential for the development of more efficacious therapies for the treatment of diabetic macular oedema (DMO). Recent work from our group suggests that targeting of retinal endothelial TRPV1 channels may represent an effective means of accomplishing this goal. Accordingly, the current project seeks to explore in greater detail the potential of targeting TRPV1 channels as a therapeutic target for DMO. Initially, in vitro studies will be carried out using human retinal microvascular endothelial cells (hRMECs) to examine the contribution of TRPV1 channels to vasopermeability responses evoked by a range of growth factors (GFs) and pro-inflammatory mediators implicated in DMO development. In order to better understand the downstream signalling pathways through which GFs and pro-inflammatory mediators activate hRMEC TRPV1 channels, mechanistic cell signalling studies will be performed using high throughput screening assays. Finally, experiments will be conducted to more comprehensively evaluate the potential of targeting TRPV1 channels as a therapeutic strategy for preventing inner blood retinal barrier (iBRB) breakdown and retinal hyperpermeability in the eye using relevant in vivo pre-clinical models of diabetes. It is expected that this work could open up new therapeutic opportunities for the treatment of DMO with significant advantages over current anti-VEGF approaches.


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

The English Language Unit (ELU) offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained from the ELU

Funding Notes


DEL Research Studentships

Eligibility for both fees and maintenance (£14,057 for 2015/16, 2016/17 TBC) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK resident or those EU residents who have lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship.

Non UK residents who hold EU residency may also apply but if successful may receive fees only.

For further details re eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) please click on the following link:


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Experimental Medicine, website for further details about the Centre:

When applying, please choose 'MEDICINE' as your subject area/School.

Related Subjects

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