The first comprehensive assessment of human infant brain injury tissue
The newly established four-year Medical Sciences & Translational Research PhD with integrated studies in Engagement for Impact Programme will combine medical science and translational research projects with integrated and credited teaching in science communication, public engagement, patient involvement, data design and informatics, via established MSc courses and/or new Engagement for Impact courses. Our vision is to teach a generation of researchers equipped to address and solve real-world problems through excellent science and who have the engagement and impact skills we believe will give them an edge in their future careers.
This potential PhD project, selectable by successful applicants to this Programme, is supervised by Dr Veronique Miron (https://www.ed.ac.uk/centre-reproductive-health/dr-veronique-miron) at the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, with co-supervisors Prof. Anna Williams.
Injury to the developing infant brain during gestation or birth often leads to impairments in sensation, intellect and movement (e.g. cerebral palsy). Although cerebral palsy affects 17 million people, the basis of injury is poorly understood, and there are no reliable biomarkers of injury nor treatments for brain repair. Due to better survival of injured infants in recent decades (albeit with increasing prevalence of disability), there is low availability of tissue which has hampered research. However, we have obtained a tissue bank which uniquely allows for the first comprehensive assessment of human infant brain injury. Using state-of-the-art large-scale analysis of tissue proteins and mRNAs (using digital spatial profiling), we aim to i) identify biomarkers associated with areas of brain injury vs health, and ii) understand gene/protein signatures underpinning injury. This could lead to improved clinical assessment following suspected injury, and reveal novel therapeutic approaches to support healthy brain development.
Engagement for Impact:
Engagement of the general public and patient groups regarding human infant brain injury/cerebral palsy research is underdeveloped in comparison to that for adult neurological disorders. This project thus creates the opportunity to improve public knowledge on research in this area, by capitalizing on pathways established by the Miron lab which can be further developed by the student:
1) Social media: using Twitter (eg @MironLab) to discuss research, engage with patient groups, and inform on issues in research. The student can also engage through Edinburgh Neuroscience (@EdinUniNeuro).
2) Direct interactions with stakeholders: the student can interact with patient groups via TheirWorld based in our centre (eg at public symposia) and with the general public via talks, hosting school students (Science Insight programme) and participating in the Edinburgh Science Festival. The opportunity exists to engage with a network of clinicians working with children with cerebral palsy based at the Sick Kids hospital on-site.
Creation of resources for the public: the student will have the opportunity to create resources for websites (SaveOurBabies, EuroStemCell) and magazines (National Family) such as drawings, blogs, and interviews.
This is one of the potential projects in the University of Edinburgh College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine’s new 4 year Medical Sciences & Translational Research PhD with integrated studies in Engagement for Impact Programme. Successful applicants will select their preferred PhD projects from the available options in discussion with proposed supervisors. Three studentships are available in the programme, providing full tuition fees (EU/UK rate only), stipend of at least £15,000 per year, £450 annual travel and conference allowance, dedicated engagement support grant of £1,500, and £5,000 annually towards research consumable costs.
Apply before 26th January 2020 at https://www.ed.ac.uk/inflammation-research/postgraduate-training/phd-programme