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The effect of anaesthetic neurotoxicity on the development of adult neural stem cells

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, March 13, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Although most neurons in the mammalian brain are generated during development, certain areas possess the capacity to generate new neurons throughout life. One of these areas is the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. In the dentate gyrus of the adult brain, neural stem cells have the potential to divide and generate neurons in a process called adult neurogenesis. These new neurons play an important role in normal brain functions such as learning and memory, and aberrant adult neurogenesis has been implicated with pathological conditions including epilepsy, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Our recent work has shown that the adult neural stem cells are born during the first week after birth. This makes the dentate gyrus and the neural stem cells especially sensitive to early postnatal pathological alterations such as anaesthetic neurotoxicity. Previous studies have demonstrated an association between anaesthesia exposure and changes in behaviour and cognition in patients who have undergone surgery in early life. Additionally, animal models have shown that anaesthesia exposure during postnatal development results in abnormal neuronal development and circuitry formation. However, it is not known how the anaesthetic insults affect the behaviour of the individual neural stem cells and how this alters the dentate gyrus throughout life. The purpose of this project is to determine how exposure to anaesthesia during development affects the behaviour and potential of the neural stem cells in the developing and adult dentate gyrus.

The first aim of this project is to determine how anaesthesia affects the proliferation of dentate neural stem cells at different stages of development in the mouse brain. This will be done using histological staining techniques combined with cell proliferation assays. Secondly, we will use transgenic mouse models to genetically fate-map the neural stem cells and examine how anaesthesia affects the behaviour of individual neural stem cells in the developing dentate gyrus. Finally, in order to determine molecular determinants of the cellular behaviour of the neural stem cells affected by anaesthetic neurotoxicity, we will perform gene expression analysis of neural stem cells and their progeny in the healthy and diseased brain.
The results from this project will not only have clinical implications but will also answer fundamental questions in stem cell biology.

The ideal candidate should have some experience with cell and molecular biology and motivation to continue to develop these skills.

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of MEDICAL SCIENCES. Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Sciences, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct person for processing.

NOTE CLEARLY THE NAME OF THE SUPERVISOR AND EXACT PROJECT TITLE ON THE APPLICATION FORM. Applicants are limited to applying for a maximum of 3 applications for funded projects. Any further applications received will be automatically withdrawn.

Funding Notes

This project is funded by a University of Aberdeen Elphinstone Scholarship. An Elphinstone Scholarship covers the cost of tuition fees only, whether home, EU or overseas.

For details of fees: View Website

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a First Class Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2:1 Honours degree may be considered provided they have a Distinction at Masters level.

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