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The impact of zinc deficiency on Alzheimer’s disease

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

About the Project

In addition to memory problems, people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) also experience ‘non-memory’ behavioural symptoms including depression, anxiety, and agitation. Even though these symptoms greatly reduce quality-of-life, there are currently no effective treatments and little understanding of why they happen. Zinc deficiency (low zinc) is commonly seen in people with AD and scientists think it makes AD worse. In a mouse model of AD we have shown a zinc deficient diet causes poorer memory. Zinc deficiency is also suggested to cause changes in behaviour and mood including depression and anxiety. We have identified changes in the brains of zinc deficient AD mice that could affect their behaviour. We will therefore test in these mice whether zinc deficiency makes the ‘non-memory’ behavioural symptoms of AD worse and whether zinc supplementation can improve these behavioural problems. Our initial discoveries have given us a clue as to how zinc deficiency could affect AD, possibly by increasing inflammation (the body’s response to harm). We will therefore test if increased inflammation is the reason why zinc deficiency makes the behavioural symptoms of AD worse. Overall our results could show that zinc supplements are a potential therapy for the behavioural symptoms seen in people with AD.

Training/techniques to be provided:
The student will join well-equipped labs that contain all the expertise necessary to complete the proposed experiments. This project crosses several scientific areas including neuroscience and immunology. The student will use an integrated and multidisciplinary approach that will involve in vitro cell biology, whole animal in vivo experimentation and ex vivo analyses. The student will also receive extensive training, including animal handling and long-term behavioural/memory assessments. The student will also relevant histological and immunohistochemical techniques including flow cytometry, cytometric bead array, ELISA and immunohistochemistry.

Entry Requirements:
Eg: Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a related area / subject. Candidates with experience in X or with an interest in X are encouraged to apply.

For international students we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 3 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website (View Website). For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (View Website).

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.

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