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Mas related gene receptors as novel molecules for pain relief

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  • Full or part time
    Dr I El Karim
    Dr F Lundy
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description


Chronic pain is a major health problem because many of the available treatments are either not effective or have major side effects. There is a clear clinical need to improve pain treatment but our understanding of pain mechanisms, which are essential for effective treatment, is limited by the ethical difficulties in obtaining human neuronal tissue. The availability of adult stem cells has however provided opportunities for in vitro generation of human neuronal cells to facilitate pain research. In this project we aim to study the mechanisms underlying inflammatory pain using neurons differentiated from adult dental pulp stem cells. We will look specifically at the interaction between key receptors and channels involved in pain sensation and their potential modulators. Of particular interest are the Transient receptor potential (TRP) channels that sense physical and chemical stimuli i.e. sensors of pain and the Mas related gene (Mrg) receptors that modulate pain sensation. The project will provide the prospective PhD student with the opportunity to master a variety of laboratory techniques including cell culture, stem cell differentiation, qPCR, IHC and calcium microfluroimetry. Understanding the cellular interactions between Mrg receptors and TRP channels may open up new targets for treating chronic pain conditions.


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

The English Language Unit (ELU) offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained from the ELU http://www.qub.ac.uk/tefl/

Funding Notes


Funded by: Dr Hadwen Trust

Eligibility for both fees and maintenance (£14,057 for 2015/16, 2016/17 TBC) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK or EU resident.


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Infection and Immunity, website for further details about the Centre:


When applying, please choose 'MEDICINE' as your subject area/School.

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