Opportunities

This page is designed to help researchers and people looking for research opportunities find each other. We want to make it easier for people to make MND their area of focus and hope that the advancements that come out of these projects will make a positive difference to the MND community.

If you have a vacancy or are looking for a specific opportunity please contact us.

Opportunities in New Zealand

Small Project Grant | Neurological Foundation of NZ

Project Grants are the main avenue by which the Neurological Foundation sponsors research. Applicants can be scientifically or medically qualified, and the research can be clinical or biomedical.

Neurological Foundation Small Project Grants offer up to $15,000. Funds are usually for pilot or feasibility studies or a piece of equipment.

The application must be made on the Foundation’s form, and with the approval sent to the Foundation before the closing dates of April 1 and September 1 to douglas.ormrod@neurological.org.nz.

Note: Only one resubmission of a declined Small Project application will be considered. See advice to applicants for more details.

Click here for more detail

 

Project Grant | Neurological Foundation of NZ

Project Grants are the main avenue by which the Neurological Foundation sponsors research. Applicants are usually salaried by their institutions and a grant will typically cover salaries for technicians, scientists or nurses, plus working expenses. There are two rounds each year and the NF funds approximately 15 project grants annually.

Eligibility

Applicants can be scientifically or medically qualified, and the research can be clinical or biomedical.

Duration

Projects can be from one to three year’s duration.

How to Apply

The application must be made on the Foundation’s form, and include the Referee Nominations, Confidentiality, Ethical and Administrative Agreements (Sections 8 through 11), as well as the Excel budget sheet. It needs to be sent to the Foundation before the closing dates of April 1 and September 1 to douglas.ormrod@neurological.org.nz.

Note: Only one resubmission of a declined Project application will be considered. See advice to applicants for more details.

Click here for more detail

 

Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship | Neurological Foundation of NZ

The Senior Postdoctoral Fellowships provide two years of personal support for outstanding researchers while they establish themselves as independent investigators at an institution in New Zealand.

Eligibility

Candidates for the Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship will have submitted or been awarded a PhD within the eight years prior to the application closing date.  If a successful applicant is based overseas at the time of award, a single airfare to return to New Zealand will be included in the grant.

Duration

2 years

How to Apply

The closing dates for the Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship are 1 April and 1 September each year. The application must be made on the Foundation’s form and should be electronically submitted to the Research Manager before the closing dates. For further information see the Advice to Applicants document.

Click here for more detail

 

First Postdoctoral Fellowship | Neurological Foundation of NZ

The First Postdoctoral Fellowships provide two years of personal support for outstanding early career researchers so that they can complete their first post-doctoral fellowship under the close mentorship of an academic with a continuing position at an institution in New Zealand.

How to Apply

The closing dates are 1 April and 1 September each year. The application must be made on the Foundation’s form and should be electronically submitted to the Research Manager before the closing dates. For further information see the Advice to Applicants document.

Click here for more detail

 

O'Brien Clinical Fellowship | Neurological Foundation of NZ

This Fellowship will be awarded to a New Zealand registered non-medical health professional who is committed to a clinical research career with a major focus on treatment or care of those affected by brain disease or injury, including end of life care. It is intended to enhance their research skills and experience and thus contribute to improved patient outcomes in New Zealand.

Eligibility

Fellowship with be available to, but not limited to: Clinical Nurses, Clinical Psychologists, Clinical Trials Managers, Dieticians, Exercise Physiologists, Health Psychologists, Medical Laboratory Technologists, Medical Physicists, Neurophysiologists, Neuropsychologists, Occupational Therapists, Pharmacists, Physiotherapists, Radiographers, Research Nurses, Social Workers, Speech Language Therapists. Those unsure about eligibility should contact the Neurological Foundation Research Manager douglas.ormrod@neurological.org.nz.

How to Apply

The closing dates for this fellowship are 1 April and 1 September each year. The application must be made on the Foundation’s form and should be electronically submitted to the Research Manager before the closing dates. For further information see the Advice to Applicants document.

Click here for more detail

 

Conference and Training Course Grants | Neurological Foundation of NZ

These grants are intended to support international keynote speakers and early career researchers at neurology and neuroscience conferences in New Zealand, or facilitate early career researcher participation in advanced training courses in New Zealand or Australia.

What can be funded?

  • Support for early career researcher participation in conferences and advanced training courses, such as
    • Subsidised registration
    • Subsidised travel
    • Subsidised childcare
    • Prizes for conference presentations by early career researchers
  • Support for international keynote speaker participation, such as
    • Airfares
    • Domestic transfers
    • Accommodation

Maximum Value

$20,000

How to Apply

The closing dates are 1 April and 1 September each year.

  • Complete your application on the current version of the Conference Grant application form, available on the Foundation’s website
  • Submit your application form as a PDF, with supporting documents as separate PDFs, by the closing date
  • Supporting documentation:
    • Application data collection form, available on the Foundation’s website
    • Quotes for any keynote speaker travel and accommodation
  • Applicants will be advised of the outcome early in July or December
  • Successful applicants will be informed of the conditions of the grant and asked for their formal acceptance of the funding contract.
  • If you have any queries or doubts, please contact the Foundation’s Research Manager for advice. research@neurological.org.nz

Click here for more detail

 

Postgraduate Student Project - Building a Brain Machine Interface for song production | University of Auckland

Project Code: 10387354
University: Auckland
Faculty: Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Department: Anatomy
Main Supervisor: Dr M Fabiana Kubke
Application open date: 02 Oct 2017
Application deadline:
Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International

Introduction

Brain machine interfaces are used to extract the neural code associated with a behaviour, and use that code to drive a robotic device. In the context of human health, it allows people with motor disabilities to have their brains ‘talk’ directly to a device, such as a prosthetic arm.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

The project involves understanding the models of auditory-vocal learning and vocal production, understanding how vocal motor commands are coded in ‘motor cortex’, how these can be analysed through machine learning algorithms, and animal behaviour analysis. Students with a background in biology, neuroscience, mathematics, engineering or bioengineering are encouraged to apply.

Objective

We are currently trying to exploit this technology to study how auditory and somatosensory information contribute to the production of speech. We are using a song bird as an animal model because the neural substrates and the process of learning song are similar to those of humans. To separate the processes that are involved in the ‘intention’ to sing from the act of singing itself, we are training birds to learn how to ‘sing’ (through a brain machine interface) using an audio speaker rather than through their vocal apparatus.

Information on how to enroll and apply 

Contact the project supervisor

International Opportunities

Funded PhD Project: Impaired stress response as a pathological mechanism in Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 and related degenerative conditions | University of St Andrews

Project Description

Myotonic Dystrophy Type1 (DM1) is an incurable inherited multi-system disease that results in numerous symptoms including early cataract development, which can be the first sign of the disease. The eye lens grows continuously throughout life by differentiation of a stem cell pool in the lens epithelium into optically clear fibre cells. This involves clearance of cellular organelles including the nucleus. The process is not well understood, but transcriptional shut-down precedes the loss of the nucleus (1) and autophagy, a normal cellular mechanism for degradation of cellular components, is essential for lens development (reviewed in 2). DM1 is caused by an expanded CUG triplet repeat in the DMPK1 (Dystrophia Myotonica Protein Kinase) gene. This results in accumulation of faulty mRNA in nuclear foci (CUGexp foci). It is not clear how these foci lead to the various symptoms seen, but similar nuclear RNA foci are also formed in some familial forms of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, motor neuron disease), suggesting that the underlying pathological consequences of these RNA foci may be relevant for understanding a number of degenerative conditions. Two anatagonistic pre-mRNA splicing factors, MBNL1 (Muscleblind-like1) and CUGBP1 (CUG Binding Protein1) are implicated in DM1. MBNL1 accumulates in CUGexp foci and it is thought this may compromise its function in splicing, while CUGBP1 activity is up-regulated in DM1. We have access to human lens epithelial (HLE) cell lines from DM1 patients in which we have documented the presence of CUGexp foci (3) and the accumulation of MBNL1 in them. However, only ~0.1% of total cellular MBNL1 is found in CUGexp foci, suggesting that defective splicing is unlikely to be the underlying basis of DM1-associated cataract. In addition to roles in pre-mRNA splicing, MBNL1 and CUGBP1 have also been implicated in cytoplasmic regulation of mRNA (reviewed in 4). We have recently identified both MBNL1 and CUGBP1 in cytoplasmic stress granules (SGs) (previously reported for MBNL1), and in P-bodies (our novel observation) (Fig.1). P-bodies are found in most cells, while SGs usually occur only during cellular stress. The structures are closely related, both implicated in cytoplasmic mRNA regulation. Under conditions of physiological stress, we show delayed SG formation in cells containing CUGexp foci (lens epithelial cells from DM1 patients and our newly-established inducible HeLa cell model), suggesting that disruption of cellular mRNA regulation may occur in DM1. In yeast, the clearance of SGs involves autophagy, the same mechanism that is important in clearing cellular structures during lens differentiation (5). The cells of the eye lens epithelium are subject to an unusually high level of environmental stress (reviewed in 6). We hypothesise that DM1 patient-derived cells show altered responses to stress caused by MBNL1/CUGBP1 disruption and that this plays a role in the development of symptoms including cataract.

This PhD project will use combine cell biology and advanced microscopy approaches with quantitative proteomics and bioinformatics to investigate the role of stress responses in DM1 with the potential to expand the work further into cell culture models of motor neuron disease. Training will be given in all of these areas and the University of St Andrews also runs a world-class programme of training workshops and activities designed specifically for research postgraduate students.

Deadline

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Informal enquiries are strongly encouraged and should be made by email to Dr Judith Sleeman.

Eligibility

Upper second-class degree in Biology or a related area.

Funding: Fees and stipend is provided for 3.5 years.

Click here for more details.

Funded PhD Project: How does a mammalian cell physically organise the complex processes of gene expression and regulation? | University of St Andrews

Project Description

Accurate gene expression and regulation in mammalian cells is a hugely complex process, essential for cellular and organismal homeostasis. The physical organisation of gene expression within the cell, in turn, requires precise and complex compartmentalization within the nucleus and cytoplasm of the cell. This compartmentalization occurs using a number of sub-cellular structures that are not formed using membranes, but by processes of phase separation driven by the interactions between RNA and protein molecules.

In a number of progressive human diseases associated with ageing, faulty messenger RNA molecules containing expanded repeat sequences (for example >100 copies of the triplet CUG in Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 and expansion within the C9orf72 locus associated with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) form foci in the nucleus of the cell. These foci interfere with gene expression and regulation, although the details of how this happens are not understood. Pre-mRNA splicing is widely reported to be affected, but other essential processes such as polyadenylation; 5’ capping; intra-cellular transport and mRNA degradation have not been widely studied in this context. We have recently discovered that the presence of these expanded RNA foci also alters the physical structure, dynamics and molecular composition of a number of phase separated cellular structures required for correct gene regulation. We have generated novel cell lines in which we can induce these foci to use as a model to investigate cellular structures and molecular pathways required for accurate gene expression and regulation.

This project will use these novel cell lines, and generate related cell lines, to address a number of linked questions.
1) What is the biophysical nature of the disease-associated RNA foci?
2) Which aspects of gene expression and regulation are affected by the presence of the foci?
3) In what way are the morphology and dynamic behaviour of phase-separated cellular structures affected by the foci?

Taken together, the answers to these questions will provide valuable insights into the fundamental cellular organisation of gene expression and regulation.

The training provided by the project will include molecular biology; cell culture; quantitative proteomics; microscopy including 3 dimensional time-lapse, superresolution (Airyscan and SIM) and photokinetic analyses; data analysis and electron microscopy. Training will be given in all of these areas and the University of St Andrews also runs a world-class programme of training workshops and activities designed specifically for research postgraduate students.

Deadline

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Informal enquiries are strongly encouraged and should be made by email to Dr Judith Sleeman.

Eligibility

Upper second-class degree in Biology or a related area.

Funding: Fees and stipend is provided for 3.5 years.

Click here for more details.

PhD Project: Longitudinal study on the relationship of the gut microbiome to disease progression in the UK MND population | University of Sheffield

Project Description

Motor neurone disease (MND) is a devastating neurodegenerative condition characterised by progressive deterioration of motor functions until death normally results from respiratory failure. There is no cure for MND, so treatment is focussed on management of associated symptoms such as depression, hyper-salivation and pain resulting from stiffness/cramping. Patient survival is often quoted as being on average 2-3 years post-diagnosis, but there is huge variation in individual outcomes. Whilst genomic studies have revealed a number of mutations associated with the condition, the reasons for such widely varying prognostic outcomes are still poorly understood.

Microbiomics is the study of the collective genomes of microscopic organisms living within and upon individuals, and the roles these inhabitants play in the biology of the host. Recently, actions of microbes have been implicated in modifying a number of conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. To date, little work has been done investigating the impact of the microbiome on MND.

The aim of this project is to characterise the microbiomes of newly-diagnosed MND patients, and investigate any link between the microbial groups represented and rate of disease progression. With the help of a well-established clinical research team, the objectives are:
– identify any global differences that exist between controls, confirmed MND and disease controls
– within the MND group, investigate any microbiome differences between slow and fast progressors
– if appropriate, infer functional significance of any differences and attempt to find evidence in support of these hypotheses

This PhD project provides an excellent opportunity to undertake groundbreaking research in a fast-developing area of science. The successful candidate will benefit from working within a highly successful research group in a world leading centre for research into neurodegenerative diseases.

How to Apply

Interested candidates should in the first instance contact (Prof Chris McDermott, c.j.mcdermott@sheffield.ac.uk)

Please complete a University Postgraduate Research Application form available here: www.shef.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/apply

Deadline

Applications will be reviewed until a suitable candidate is appointed. 

Eligibility

Candidates must have a first or upper second class honors degree or significant research experience. Either experience in a molecular biology laboratory or of bioinformatics analysis of large genomic datasets is essential. Candidates must be fluent in written and spoken English.

Funding

This project is open to self-funded students only.

Click here for more details.

Non-Clinical Research Fellowship | MND Association

The MND Association is proud to announce our newly launched non-clinical fellowships in MND. These fellowships will aim to foster and nurture post-doctoral researchers into the MND research leaders of tomorrow.

The fellowships will be awarded at two levels, depending on the experience of the applicant: Junior Non-Clinical fellowships or Senior Non-Clinical fellowships.

Deadline

The deadline date for receipt of summary applications is 1 May 2020This round will open on 6 March 2020

Please read our GuidelinesTerms and Conditions and our Guide to Completing the Online Summary Application Form. It is also recommended that you read the MND Association Research Strategy and Research Governance Overview

Duration

Grants will be offered for up to three or four years duration.

  • Junior Non-Clinical – awards will be offered for 2 – 3 years
  • Senior Non-Clinical – awards will be offered for 3 – 4 years

Eligibility

Fellowship awards may only be held at an institute in the UK and Ireland. At the time of application the prospective fellow may be based elsewhere

  • Junior Non-Clinical – applicants must have 2 – 5 years post-doctoral experience at the time of commencement of the award. Exceptional final year PhD students may apply but should consult the Association prior to submitting a summary application.
  • Senior Non-Clinical – applicants must have 4 – 10 years post-doctoral experience at the time of commencement of the award.

Assessment and Budget

Please see our guidelines for more information on assessment criteria and budget information.

Click here for more details.

PhD Project: TDP-43 The Key protein for finding a cure for Motor Neurone Disease | University of Liverpool

Project Description

Motor neurone disease is a progressive, fatal neurological disorder with no known cure. It is characterised by selective loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord and cortex. Over 90% of MND (ALS) cases, both sporadic and familial, feature TDP-43-positive inclusions in the cytoplasm of affected neurons. Most MND patients die within 3-10 years due to respiratory failure. Understanding the molecular mechanism of MND and finding a therapeutic solution to remedy the disease-causing properties is our goal. 

TAR DNA binding protein-43 (TDP-43), has multiple functions in transcriptional repression, pre-mRNA splicing and translational regulation. Its ability to bind UG-rich RNA is very important for normal localisation of TDP-43 in the nucleoplasm. Cytoplasmic mis-localisation and elevated half-life are characteristics of mutant TDP-43. ALS-associated TDP-43 mutations in the central nucleic acid binding RRM domains lead to increased thermal stability and elevated half-life in a TDP-43 disease cell model. Full length TDP-43 has been purified at Liverpool recently enabling SAXS measurements that hold promise for structure determination of full-length TDP-43. This is a major breakthrough in understanding the molecular mechanism of MND and finding a therapeutic solution to remedy the disease-causing properties of this critical protein. 

The student will build on this success in a multidisciplinary programme using molecular biology, protein chemistry, bioinformatics, protein crystallography and Small angle X-ray scattering. Required ’wet-lab’ facilities for the project (e.g. cloning, expression and purification of proteins) are available at our institution. Additionally, UoL has a combined SAXS/MX facility on a super bright in-house X-ray generator FR-E+ and a crystallization robot. 

Deadline

Applications will be reviewed until a suitable candidate is appointed. 

Eligibility

Candidates must have, or expect to gain, a first or strong upper second class degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline. 

Funding

The project is open to both UK and International students with their own funding/scholarship. Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the Principal Supervisor directly to discuss their application and the project. 

Assistance will be given to those who are applying to international funding schemes. 
The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees and living expenses as well as research costs of £3000 per year. 
A tuition fee bursary may be available for well qualified and motivated applicants with a First class degree. 

Click here for more details.

PhD Project: SOD1 The Key protein for finding a cure for familial Motor Neurone Disease | University of Liverpool

Project Description

Motor neurone disease is a progressive, fatal neurological disorder with no known cure. It is characterised by selective loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord and cortex. Over 90% of MND (ALS) cases, both sporadic and familial, feature TDP-43-positive inclusions in the cytoplasm of affected neurons. Most MND patients die within 3-10 years due to respiratory failure. Understanding the molecular mechanism of MND and finding a therapeutic solution to remedy the disease-causing properties is our goal. 

Cu/Zn binding superoxide dismutase is a homo-dimeric protein with an intra-subunit disulphide bond. This protein is responsible for converting harmful free superoxide radicals to hydrogen peroxide and oxygen in the body. Extensive structural studies have established that disease-causing mutations in SOD1 reduce the ability of protein to fold, bind metal cofactors and form the disulphide bond. As a result, mutant SOD1 is prone to misfolding and aggregation. Global efforts to correct this ‘gain-of-function’ have led to identification of a variety of ‘ligand-binding pockets’ that are suitable for drug development. Ebselen, an organoselenium compound with strong antioxidant activity, has been shown to rescue SOD1 from aggregation, especially in the A4V mutant. This discovery is the starting point for guiding discovery of the next generation of compounds aimed at stabilizing SOD1 mutants. 

The student will build on this success in a multidisciplinary programme using molecular biology, protein chemistry, protein crystallography and human cell line assays. Required ’wet-lab’ facilities for the project (e.g. cloning, expression and purification of proteins) are available at our institution. Additionally, UoL has a combined SAXS/MX facility on a super bright in-house X-ray generator FR-E+ and a crystallization robot. 

Deadline

Applications will be reviewed until a suitable candidate is appointed. 

Eligibility

Candidates must have, or expect to gain, a first or strong upper second class degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline. 

Funding

The project is open to both UK and International students with their own funding/scholarship. Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the Principal Supervisor directly to discuss their application and the project. 

Assistance will be given to those who are applying to international funding schemes. 

The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees and living expenses as well as research costs of £3000 per year. 

A tuition fee bursary may be available for well qualified and motivated applicants with First class degree. 

Click here for more details.

PhD Project: Eukaryotic gene expression: understanding the role of UPF1 in global mRNA processing and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) | University of Birmingham

Project Description

This project’s specific objective is to study the molecular role(s) that the RNA helicase UPF1 plays in RNA processing. Specifically, building on our recent report that UPF1 associates with nascent pre-mRNA transcripts and that it plays genome-wide roles in nuclear RNA-based processes – including transcription, mRNA export and most strikingly mRNA transcription site retention – this project aims to unveil what specific molecular function(s) UPF1 fulfils on nascent ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes and which of these processes are required for mRNA release from transcription sites, for correct pre-mRNA processing, to prevent mRNP aggregation and to facilitate mRNA export to the cytoplasm. Although this project aims to improve our understanding of basic aspects of gene expression and hence will primarily further the knowledge of fundamental biology – a quintessential requirement to any of the more applied biomedical research enterprises aimed at improving specific human conditions – in this specific instance, the results should provide direct useful insights into the mechanisms causing ALS and might provide knowledge which could help in the development of a treatment for this devastating neurodegenerative disease caused by defects in RNA processing. 

The student will conduct this research in either yeast or Drosophila, two amenable experimental organisms, and we will provide advanced training in molecular biology, yeast (or Drosophila) molecular genetics, genomics (analysis of next-generation sequencing) and proteomics (high-throughput mass spectrometry). The study will require extensive bioinformatics analysis. Our collaborators at either UoB Centre of Computational Biology or at other UK institutions will provide Training/support in the required software and scripting. 

Deadline

Applications will be reviewed until a suitable candidate is appointed. 

Eligibility

We have a thriving community of International PhD students and encourage applications at any time from students of any nationality either able to fund their own studies or who wish to apply for their own funding (e.g. Commonwealth Scholarship Council, Islamic Development Bank). 

Funding

All applicants should indicate in their applications how they intend to fund their studies. Any academically suitable applicant that does not indicate how they intend to fund their studies will be considered for the Darwin and/or the Elite Scholarships if not already indicated. We can only consider applicants who have their own funding or wish to apply for their own funding or are successful in gaining a Scholarship.

Click here for more details.

PhD Project: Bayesian modelling of RNA-binding protein functional target networks | University of Edinburgh

Project Description

RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) interact with RNA molecules and help determine their fate. Such interactions have essential roles across cell biology, whilst perturbed interactions contribute to several diseases1. Of relevance to this PhD, several RBPs are mutated in genetically inherited forms of the devastating motor neuron disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

In this PhD project the student will learn both experimental and computational approaches necessary to study and comprehensively model RBP target networks. Specifically, the functional genomics approach of iCLIP will be used to determine interactions of multiple ALS-associated RBPs with RNA1, RNA-sequencing will be used to determine transcriptome-wide consequences following silencing of these same RBPs, and computational analysis will be used to predict their RBP binding motif sites on a genome-wide scale. Last, the student will learn to computationally model RBP activity as a Bayesian network by integrating all these complementary, yet individually incomplete, datasets2. The powerful models that are generated by the student will be the first of their kind for ALS. They will be used to characterise the functional target networks of multiple ALS-associated RBPs and understand the way in which they recognise their interacting RNAs. Cell-type specific RNA targets will be identified with expected relevance to the progression of ALS, and these will be validated with standard molecular biology techniques (e.g. qPCR, western blotting, cell-based assays) in human pluripotent stem cell models that are differentiated into motor neurons and/or astrocytes3 by the student during their final year. Finally, the student will meta-analyse models of multiple distinct RBPs associated with ALS to reveal aspects of mechanistic convergence across distinct disease cohorts.

The PhD will be supervised by Dr Sibley (experimental / computational) and Professor Grima (computational) who have extensive expertise covering all project methodology. Alongside exposure to more standard molecular biology methods, the student will develop unique expertise in a range of complementary and state-of-the-art experimental and computational approaches that are becoming increasingly important in life sciences research. The student will integrate into the University of Edinburgh’s globally recognised community of leading RNA biologists, and benefit from excellent graduate training opportunities that are on offer at the School of Biology.

Sibley lab: www.thesibleylab.com
Grima lab: http://grimagroup.bio.ed.ac.uk
School of Biology: https://www.ed.ac.uk/biology

Approximately 80% of the supervision will be from Dr Sibley, and 20% from Professor Grima. The student will be based in the lab of Dr Sibley at 1 George Square, Edinburgh. The lab will comprise ~4 staff and include multiple post-doctoral research associate’s expert in RNA biology. The lab’s funding for ALS research comes from the Wellcome Trust and Royal Society. There will be opportunity to support undergraduate research projects during later stages of the project.

Deadline

To be considered for a scholarship, you must apply by 5 January 2020

 

Click here for more details.

PhD Project: Understanding the Electric Field in Electrical Stimulation for biomedical application | University of Reading

Project Description

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is a treatment that applies small electrical charges to a muscle that has become paralysed or weakened, due to damage in your brain or spinal cord. The electrical charge stimulates the muscle to make its usual movement. FES is a technique can help with swallowing, hand and arm function, and even breathing problems for pulmonary disease patients and for stroke patients. It has a number of potential future therapies uses to retrain voluntary motor functions such as grasping, reaching and walking. 

FES can be applied in a number of ways: transcutaneous, using electrodes which are placed on the skin; percutaneous, with electrodes inserted; through the skin to make direct contact with the motor nerves; or sub-cutaneous, where the stimulator is implanted and electrodes are attached either to the motor nerves directly, or to the nerve roots at the point where they emerge from the base of the spine. This method stimulates mainly the nerve fibres innervating of the muscle. 
Current amplitude and duration of the pulsewidth describe the intensity (charge) which determines if a specific neuron is recruited. With low intensity pulses large low-threshold neurons and neurons close to the electrodes will be recruited at first. Smaller neurons with higher threshold and neurons located further away from the electrodes will be recruited with increasing charge per pulse. An electrical field is generated between the electrodes however very little is known of how the electric field propagate in term of magnitude and direction. 

This PhD study will aim to answer this question by developing a model from the Maxwell equations and finite element methods of the electric field through the material (Skin and Muscle). A characterisation is needed to understand the level of penetration with respect to the electrodes sizes and polarity separation. An application will be to determine what configuration of transcutaneous stimulation electrodes gives a focal electrical field similar to the one obtained with epidural electrode stimulation. 

Deadline

Applications will be reviewed until a suitable candidate is appointed. 

Eligibility

Bachelors or Masters Degree (at least 2.1 or equivalent) with Mathematics, Numerical Methods and Electromagnetism as major subjects. Experience in modelling and programming in Matlab/Simulink techniques is highly desirable

Funding

There is no funding attached to this project. 

Click here for more details.

PhD Project: Investigating the role of adenosine deaminase in MND | University of Sheffield

Project Description

In a recent study published in Brain (https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awy353) and highlighted in a number of media articles (www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/disrupted-pathway-motorneurone-disease-1.830534) we have identifed a novel disruption in an energy generating pathway in astrocytes (neuronal support cells) derived from motor neurone disease (MND) patients. The pathway involves the conversion of the nucleoside adenosine to inosine, which is controlled by the enzyme adenosine deaminase (ADA). We have found that ADA is reduced in astrocytes derived from patients with a mutation that causes MND and in patients with no identified mutation. Loss of ADA would reduce inosine production and cause a build-up of adenosine that can be toxic in the central nervous system. The aim of this project is to further investigate this exciting novel discovery by ascertaining whether increasing ADA levels by gene therapy in MND patient derived astrocytes; 
1. Reduces adenosine mediated astrocyte toxicity. 
2. Increases astrocyte bioenergetic capacity. 
3. Increases astrocyte antioxidant capacity. 
4. Reduced DNA damage by increasing DNA repair mechanisms in astrocytes. 
5. Increases astrocyte mediated support to motor neurones in co-culture. 

The project will involve extensive tissue culture of induced neuronal progenitor derived astrocytes including lentiviral delivery of ADA targeted vectors. The project will include the use of cutting edge technologies to analyse cell function including an OmniLog™ phenotypic analyser, an XF24 metabolic flux analyser, an IN Cell automated microscope and 96 well plate fluorescent readers. Furthermore, the project will involve basic biochemical techniques such as SDS-PAGE, western blot and immunofluorescence. All protocols are in place (https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awy353), as well as the expertise to modulate the level of ADA by gene therapy. 

The project will be performed at the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), a world class neurodegenerative disease research institute, which is part of the Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre and the newly formed Neuroscience research 
institute. https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/neuroscience-institute/home

Deadline

Applications will be reviewed until a suitable candidate is appointed. 

Eligibility

This project is open to self-funded students only.

 

Click here for more details.

Funding Opportunities | ALS Research Forum

The ALS Research Forum has a comprehensive list of funding opportunities available.
Definitely worth a look.

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