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Towards understanding autism – a pipeline to identify genetic variations contributing to autism spectrum disorders and dissect their mechanism of action

   Biological Sciences

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  Dr J Dillon, Dr K Deinhardt  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Autistic individuals have impaired communication and social behaviour. Genes operating across a wide range of different biological functions have been identified as being associated with an increased risk of autism. However, it is currently unclear how variation in a number of these genes brings about changes in signalling to disrupt the output of neural circuits. We have developed a pipeline using the model organism C. elegans to identify genes that function to co-ordinate social behaviour. Of these, a subset function within epigenetic and lipid signalling pathways and represent interesting targets for the development of therapeutic approaches. The student will extend the existing pipeline by using molecular genetic approaches, such as CRISPR, in C. elegans and mammalian neurons to introduce genetic variation identified from human cohorts and develop knowledge of the molecular, cellular and circuit level affects.  

Funding Notes

The project is funded for 3.5 years and welcomes applicants from the UK and EU who have or expect to obtain at least an upper second class degree in Biological Sciences or allied subjects. Funding will cover fees and a stipend at current research council rates of £ 15,609 per annum for 2021/22 subject to rise for 202223.
Due to funding restrictions this position is only open to UK/EU applicants


Applications for a PhD in Biological Sciences should be submitted online at:
please place James Dillon in the field for proposed supervisor.
General enquiries should be made to James Dillon at Any queries on the application process should be made to
Applications will be considered in the order that they are received, and the position will be considered filled when a suitable candidate has been identified.
The University of Southampton and the School of Biological Sciences both hold an Athena Swan Silver Award, demonstrating their commitment to provide equal opportunities and to advance the representation of women in STEM/M subjects: science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. Due consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a career break. University benefits include onsite childcare facilities, state-of-the-art on-campus sports, arts and culture facilities, a full programme of events and a range of staff discounts.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Biological Sciences?

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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