Health effects analysis of antidepressant drugs using zebrafish models - with Merck & Co
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed antidepressant drugs and their use is increasing globally. Clinical effects include increased mood and decreased anxiety. Serotoneric neurons and serotonin signalling also have many functions early in development and developmental disorders are reported among infants exposed to (S)SRIs. The serotonergic system is highly conserved and (S)SRIs are detected in surface waters at levels believed to be effective in fish. There is an urgent need to better understand how different (S)SRIs affect serotonin signalling and behaviour in animal early life stages to improve environmental risk assessment. In this PhD studentship in partnership with the commercial company Merck and Co we propose to investigate the uptake and effects of a series of commonly prescribed (S)SRI drugs in embryo-larval zebrafish and apply exciting new methods including transgenic fish and light sheet microscopy to assess their effect on brain neural function. The project will also develop appropriate bioassays to target specific behaviours, including for anxiety that may be modulated by the drugs in question. The successful candidate will join a large and well established research team with superb infrastructure and facilities for the work proposed. (S)he will receive strong supervisory support from a highly interdisciplinary team of researchers.
This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £14,296 per year tax-free stipend. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend.
Studentships will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3.5 years of full-time study to commence in July 2017.
Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. Knowledge in animal physiology, neurobiology and /or developmental biology will be advantageous.
If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.5 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project. Alternative tests may be acceptable, see http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/english/