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  The role of nicotinic receptors in food-related reward signalling and insecticide resistance


   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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  Dr A Jones, Dr Korneel Hens  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Oxford Brookes University

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences 

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

3 Year, full-time PhD studentship (Nigel Groome Studentship)

Eligibility: Home UK/EU and International applicants

Bursary p.a: Bursary equivalent to UKRI national minimum stipend plus fees (current 2023/24 bursary rate is £18,622)

University fees and bench fees: University fees and bench fees will be met by the University for the 3 years of the funded Studentship. Visa and associated costs are not funded. International applicants can visit https://www.brookes.ac.uk/students/isat/ for further information.

Closing date: 26 January 2024

Interviews: Tbc

Start date: September 2024

Project Title: The role of nicotinic receptors in food-related reward signalling and insecticide resistance

Director of Studies: Dr Andrew Jones

Supervisors: Dr Korneel Hens 

Requirements:

Entry requirements: Applicants should have a first or upper second-class honours degree from a Higher Education Institution in the UK or acceptable equivalent qualification. EU Applicants must have a valid IELTS Academic test certificate (or equivalent) with an overall minimum score of 6.5 to 7.0 and no score below 6.0 issued in the last 2 years by an approved test centre.

The studentship requires you to undertake the equivalent of up to 6 hrs of teaching per week on average, during semester time, and to include preparation and marking (but no more than 20 hrs per week), and to participate in a teaching skills course without further remuneration.

Project Description: 

On average, smokers weigh 4 to 5 kg less than non-smokers while gaining 4.5 kg within a year after quitting. Bees show addiction to sub-lethal doses of neonicotinoids (insecticides that mimic nicotine), resulting in difficulties with feeding and foraging and overall lower food intake. The molecular mechanisms underlying the effect of nicotine on body weight are complex and poorly understood. Nicotine acts on nicotinic receptors, expressed in parts of the brain that mediate food intake. Furthermore, nicotinic receptor expression increases in the reward circuitry of the brain upon sugar intake. Conversely, we have shown that nicotinic receptor expression decreases in the brain of the fruit fly upon starvation.

This is a collaborative project between the labs of Dr Andrew Jones, a leading expert in Cys-loop ligand-gated ion channels (CysLGICs) in insects and Dr Korneel Hens, an expert on fly genetics, CRISPR modification and feeding behaviour.

It is an exciting opportunity to use state-of-the-art molecular techniques to answer a very timely research question. You will use CRISPR to tag nicotinic receptors that change expression upon starvation in the fly brain and fly genetics to study the role of these receptors in reward signalling. You will also evaluate the effect of mutations in these receptors causing neonicotinoid resistance on food choice and food intake.

Contact: [Email Address Removed]

How to apply: Applicants should visit the project webpage to download instructions on how to submit an online application, under 'How to apply'. Enquiries about the application process can be sent to: [Email Address Removed]

This project is advertised competitively alongside our current Nigel Groome PhD studentship advertisements for Biological and Medical Sciences. Part time MPhil/PhD study will be exceptionally considered (Home Fee status applicants only).

Agriculture (1) Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

3 Year, full-time PhD studentship (Nigel Groome Studentship)
Eligibility: Home UK/EU and International applicants
Bursary p.a: Bursary equivalent to UKRI national minimum stipend plus fees (current 2023/24 bursary rate is £18,622)
University fees and bench fees: University fees and bench fees will be met by the University for the 3 years of the funded Studentship. Visa and associated costs are not funded. International applicants can visit https://www.brookes.ac.uk/students/isat/ for further information.
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