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Trafficking and Activity of Magnesium Transporters in Neurons

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  • Full or part time
    Dr T Hurd
    Prof R Duncan
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

ESRIC PhD Programme:

This is one of four projects being offered in 2016 for one three-year PhD studentship available in the Edinburgh Super-resolution Imaging Consortium (ESRIC), aiming to apply state-of-the-art microscopy techniques to investigate cellular function and human disease. ESRIC is one of the most comprehensively equipped super-resolution Centres of Excellence in Europe, with state-of-the-art systems alongside a broad range of expertise across the scientific spectrum. This is an exciting opportunity to work at the cutting edge of biological imaging at the molecular scale with access to the latest technology. Appropriate multi-disciplinary supervision will be provided.

Project description:
Magnesium is one of the most abundant cations within organisms and is essential for life. Within cells, magnesium functions as a cofactor for signalling molecules and enzymes, regulating bioenergetics, cellular growth, proliferation and ion transport. At the cellular level, due to the critical role magnesium plays in normal cellular function, elaborate transport mechanisms exist to mediate magnesium influx and efflux and its transport between different subcellular compartments. This transport is facilitated by a diverse array of magnesium channels, transporters and exchangers. Recent evidence has highlighted a role for magnesium in the aetiology of Parkinson’s disease. The aims of this PhD project are twofold:

1) Trafficking of magnesium transporters. While a lot is known about how organism regulate whole body magnesium homeostasis, less is known about the mechanisms by which diverse cell types mediate control of intracellular magnesium levels. The student will utilise super resolution microscopy to examine the precise spatial distribution of magnesium transporters in developing and mature neurons. Furthermore, the student will seek to identify the mechanisms by which these transporters are trafficked and how this is altered in response to both physiological and pathological stimuli.

2) Development of techniques and reagents to visualise magnesium flux in living neurons. The development of genetically encoded calcium sensors has greatly improved our understanding of how intracellular calcium is regulated and regulates specific cellular activities, especially in the field of neurobiology. The student will explore and develop different strategies to visualise magnesium levels in living cells with a particular emphasis on the development of genetically encoded fluorescent sensors.

Who should apply:
The Edinburgh Super-Resolution Imaging Consortium PhD programme is highly multi-disciplinary, attracting students with a diverse range of backgrounds including first degrees in STEM subjects (biology, biochemistry, genetics, chemistry, physics, and engineering).

How to Apply:
Applicants should hold at least an upper second class degree or equivalent in a related subject. Applicants should submit a personal statement about your research interests, reasons for applying and a C.V. before 28 February to [Email Address Removed].

Applicants must also submit an online application, to our PhD programme via EUCLID following the instructions at
We will not consider applications that have not been submitted to both [Email Address Removed] and EUCLID by the closing date.

If you have not heard from us by 7 March please consider your application unsuccessful (we will not be able to provide feedback on unsuccessful applications).

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend interview in early April. General enquiries can be made to: [Email Address Removed] and further information and eligibility requirements are available at

This funded studentship is open only to UK students, or EU students if they have been studying in the UK for the previous 3 years or working in a related discipline in the UK. EU students coming from a discipline related to super-resolution imaging are also eligible to apply.

Further information:

Funding Notes

Funding: The MRC HGU will be funding one ESRIC PhD studentship through the University of Edinburgh for 2016 application. Each studentship is funded for 3 years. This includes tuition fees, stipend and bench fee.
Stipend: Students receive a tax-free stipend of at least £17,350 per year.
Bench fees: A generous allowance is provided for research consumables and for attending UK and international conferences.

Related Subjects

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