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The role of electromagnetic fields in neuronal health


College of Health and Life Sciences

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Dr I Dias No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a four year Postgraduate studentship, supported by the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), to be undertaken in the Translational Medicine Research Group at Aston University. The studentship is offered in collaboration with ElectroMagnetic Technologies Ltd.

The position is available to start October 2021.

Financial Support

This studentship includes a fee bursary to cover the Home fees rate, plus a maintenance allowance of at least £15,285 (subject to eligibility). This application is only available to Home-fee paying students.

Background to CASE Studentships

CASE studentships are designed to provide students with a first-rate challenging research training experience within the context of a mutually-beneficial research collaboration between academic and non-academic partner organisations. Joint supervision should provide the student with a unique and broadening perspective on the impact of collaborative research, and allows the student to acquire novel skills and expertise.

Through the industrial placement a CASE student will gain a wider understanding of, for example, applied research or policy development that will enhance their future career prospects. In addition to experience of an industrial research environment, the student will receive business-related training, for example, in project-management, business strategy and/or finance. BBSRC stipulates a placement period of a minimum of 3 months, and up to a maximum of 18 months. Click here for full details on CASE studentships.

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 (7mW.cm-2 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.

Person Specification

The successful applicant should have been awarded, or expect to achieve, a Masters degree in a relevant subject with a 60% or higher weighted average, and/or a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution) in a relevant subject. Full entry requirements for Aston University can be found on our website

 

Evidence of quantitative training is required. For example, AS or A level Maths, IB Standard or Higher Maths, or university level maths/statistics course. Full entry and eligibility requirements for MIBTP can be found on their website

Contact information

For formal enquiries about this project contact Dr Irundika Dias by email at [Email Address Removed].

Submitting an application

Details of to apply for this MIBTP CASE studentship and the required documents can be found here.

If you require further information about the application process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions team at [Email Address Removed]

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