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The relevance of dopamine homeostasis for brain health and cognitive abilities in Drosophila

   Department of Biosciences

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  Dr Vincent Croset, Prof Warwick Dunn  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

We are seeking a talented and enthusiastic PhD student to investigate the relevance of dopamine homeostasis for cognitive functions and brain health, using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model. Dopamine signaling is central to numerous neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, and addiction, however the fundamental mechanisms used by the brain to adapt to impaired dopamine homeostasis remain unclear. Through this project, you will explore (1) how imbalanced dopaminergic signaling in specific groups of neurons in the fly brain alters behaviours such as memory and sleep, across the life course, and (2) the molecular consequences of dopamine imbalance, using metabolomics and cell type-specific transcriptomics.

Neuronal circuits controlling behaviour have been extensively described in the fly. A full connectome, single-cell transcriptome atlases, and a host of genetic tools to precisely manipulate genes and circuits are available, providing unique opportunities to address the neuronal and cellular basis of behaviour, at a resolution that would be impossible to achieve in other organisms.

Through this interdisciplinary project, you will have the opportunity to work with a range of cutting-edge techniques, under the guidance of experts in the field, across two leading UK universities. You will gain a broad range of skills and competencies, including in Drosophila neuroanatomy and genetics, behaviour, transcriptomics, metabolomics, immunohistochemistry, microscopy, molecular biology, and quantitative/computational biology. The ideal candidate will have some background in genetics or neurobiology, and basic knowledge in one or several of the methods involved. However, curiosity and motivation are the main prerequisites, and you will have plenty of opportunities to learn.


Applications should be made by emailing [Email Address Removed] with:

·        a CV (including contact details of at least two academic (or other relevant) referees);

·       a covering letter – clearly stating your first choice project, and optionally 2nd ranked project, as well as including whatever additional information you feel is pertinent to your application; you may wish to indicate, for example, why you are particularly interested in the selected project(s) and at the selected University;

·        copies of your relevant undergraduate degree transcripts and certificates;

·        a copy of your IELTS or TOEFL English language certificate (where required);

·        a copy of your passport (photo page).

A GUIDE TO THE FORMAT REQUIRED FOR THE APPLICATION DOCUMENTS IS AVAILABLE AT Applications not meeting these criteria may be rejected.

In addition to the above items, please email a completed copy of the Additional Details Form (as a Word document) to [Email Address Removed]. A blank copy of this form can be found at:

Informal enquiries may be made to [Email Address Removed]

The deadline for all applications is 12noon on Monday 9th January 2023. 

Funding Notes

Studentships are funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for 4 years. Funding will cover tuition fees at the UK rate only, a Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG) and stipend. We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK and are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.


Gliotransmission of D-serine promotes thirst-directed behaviors in Drosophila. (Current Biology, 2022).
Cellular diversity in the Drosophila midbrain revealed by single-cell transcriptomics. (Elife, 2018).
A molecular and neuronal basis for amino acid sensing in the Drosophila larva. (Scientific Reports, 2016).
Procedures for large-scale metabolic profiling of serum and plasma using gas chromatography and liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. (Nature Protocols, 2011).
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