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Understanding obesity: studies on the top-down control of feeding behaviour

MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS)

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Prof D J Withers No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Metabolic Signalling group investigates the role of the central nervous system in the regulation of energy homeostasis with a view to understanding the causes of metabolic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Our main focus is on understanding how the neuronal pathways that respond to hormones and nutrients regulate normal mammalian physiology and how perturbations of these pathways can cause metabolic disease. We are particularly interested in studying the interactions between the hypothalamic centres implicated in the regulation of food intake and higher cognitive brain regions with a view to understanding the influence of top-down control on feeding and food choice. We use a wide range of techniques including mouse genetics, in vivo imaging of neural activity, optogenetics, pharmacogenetics, electrophysiology, behavioural and cognitive analysis. The successful applicant will be trained in these approaches and will join a large group of scientist at the MRC LMS working on various aspects of metabolism.

To Apply: Please visit our website ( to download an application form.

Funding Notes

This project is one of multiple available projects potentially funded by the MRC. If successful the studentship would cover all tuition fee payments and includes a tax-free stipend amounting to £21,000pa (paid in monthly installments directly to the student) for 3.5 years.

This project is direct funding available for UK/EU students only.


Smith MA, Choudhury AI, Glegola JA, Viskaitis P, Irvine EE, Custodio de Campos Silva PC, Khadayate S, Zeilhofer HU & Withers DJ. Extrahypothalamic GABAergic nociceptin-expressing neurons regulate AgRP neuron activity to control feeding behaviour. J. Clin. Invest. (in press, 2019).

Viskaitis P, Irvine EE, Smith MA, Choudhury AI, Alvarez-Curto E, Glegola JA, Hardy DG, Pedroni SMA, Paiva Pessoa MR, Fernando ABP, Katsouri L, Sardini A, Ungless MA, Milligan G & Withers DJ. (2017) Modulation of SF1 Neuron Activity Coordinately Regulates Both Feeding Behavior and Associated Emotional States. Cell Reports. 19:3559-3572.
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