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The role of electromagnetic fields in neuronal health

Aston Medical School

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Dr I Dias , Prof A Ellis , Dr Lissette Sanchez Aranguren No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
Birmingham United Kingdom Cell Biology

About the Project

This project is available through the MIBTP programme.. The successful applicant will join the MIBTP cohort and will take part in all of the training offered by the programme. For further details please visit the MIBTP website -

Project outline

Modern technologies increasingly rely on wireless communication systems and increase the human exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). While the proposals for new technologies aimed at high data-rates, connectivity and reliability, the impact on human health is often overlooked. There is compelling evidence that EMFs affect cell physiology by altering redox-related processes. As the powerhouse of the cell, mitochondria play a central role in cellular homeostasis and changes in cellular redox state. Imbalanced redox state proposed as a regulatory element in ageing and various neurological disorders. We previously described that oxidised lipids and proteins contribute to poor neuronal health.

Based on this evidence, we aim to investigate the hypothesis that the mitochondrial health in neurones is affected by EMF influencing mitochondrial bioenergetics and altering redox state. We bring together a strong team coving mitochondrial health (Dr Dias), health impacts of oxidative stress (Dr Sanchez), communication networks (Professor Ellis), and EMF compliance (Industrial partner: EMT Ltd). This team will enable us to emulate both EMF emulating those from next generation technologies such as deployed for 5G and planned for 6G wireless networks, and conventional applications such as the EMF from switched mode power supplies where product qualification often reveals high levels of both conducted and radiated EMF. A controlled environment (anechoic chambers and Faraday cages) will be developed to ensure uniform exposure of cell cultures to EMF over a frequency range of 50 MHz to 5GHz, with power spectral densities up to current FCC limits ( at 3 GHz). For emulation of 5G networks, continuous wave carriers will be modulated with bandwidths up to 200 MHz, to investigate potential demodulation effects within the cell structure. Within various controlled EMF environments, we will explore the generation of reactive oxygen species in neuronal cells and (i) their effects on mitochondrial bioenergetics and overall health (ii) the oxidative damage/modifications to mitochondrial proteins and lipids and (iii) the impact on neuronal excitability derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). By studying the effects of EMF on neurones and mitochondrial bioenergetics, this project will inform safe applications of future wireless communication systems.

Closing date for applications: 28th February 2021

Check eligibility and apply here

Please note

CASE students must fulfil the MIBTP entry requirements and will join the MIBTP cohort for the taught elements of the training year (October to December 2021). CASE students will complete a 3-month mini-project (at a non-home institution) between January and March before starting their PhD in April 2022. They will remain as an integral part of the MIBTP cohort and take part in the core networking activities and transferable skills training.

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