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Understanding the role of the gut-brain-axis in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

   School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition

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  Dr Jenna Gregory, Prof S Parson, Dr Matthew Horrocks  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS), University of Aberdeen, is recruiting a cohort of 7 PhD students across its broad themes in neuroscience, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology and computational biology. The studentships are linked to 7 new academic appointments in the Institute. Applications are invited for 4-year fully funded PhD studentships commencing 1st October 2023. The application deadline is 6th February 2023.

Project Description

Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease (PD), Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are traditionally considered to be disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). However, clinical presentation is not restricted to neurological dysfunction and non-CNS manifestations, particularly gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, are common. Alpha-synuclein, the aggregation-prone protein seen to accumulate pathologically in the brains of patients with PD, has been shown to accumulate in pathological aggregates in the GI tract long before CNS manifestations begin. We have shown recently, that GI proteinopathy also exists prior to symptom onset in people with ALS.

The objective of this project is to develop a range of analytical and experimental skills and implement cutting-edge methodologies to probe the pathogenesis and development of gut manifestations of ALS and to understand how this could be harnessed for diagnostic and early therapeutic intervention.

Take a look at our recent publications from 2022:

Gut pathology in ALS:

Digital pathology techniques in our lab:

Molecular pathology techniques in our lab:

Anticipated skills resulting from this project: spatial sequencing; molecular pathology; digital pathology, microscopy and image analysis; histology; bioinformatics and data analysis; scientific writing; critical appraisal of scientific literature; protocol writing; manuscript writing; communication skills – conference attendance, talks and poster presentations.

Further info: It is possible for us to tailor the project to your own research interests too, get in touch if this is something that interests you.

Take a look at the work that our lab does:

Candidate Background:

A relevant undergraduate degree in medical science or bioscience with at least a 2:1 UK Honours degree (or international equivalent).

We encourage applications from all backgrounds and communities, and are committed to having a diverse, inclusive team. Informal enquiries are encouraged. Please contact Dr Jenna Gregory ([Email Address Removed]) for further information.



  • Formal applications can be completed online:
  • You should apply for Medical Sciences (PhD) to ensure your application is passed to the correct team for processing.
  • Please clearly note the name of the supervisor and project title on the application form. If you do not mention the project title and the supervisor on your application, it will not be considered for the studentship.
  • Your application must include: A personal statement, an up-to-date copy of your academic CV, and clear copies of your educational certificates and transcripts.
  • Please note: you DO NOT need to provide a research proposal with this application
  • General application enquiries can be made to [Email Address Removed]
  • Interviews will be held on 23rd and 28th February 2023.

Funding Notes

This is a four-year, fully funded project. Funding is provided by the University of Aberdeen School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition. Funding covers tuition fees at the UK/Home rate (this includes EU nationals that hold UK settled or pre-settled status), research costs, and an annual stipend at the UKRI rate (£17,668 for the 2022/2023 academic year).
The expected start date for this project is October 2023.
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