BBSRC (CASE) 4 Years PhD Studentship

open until filled
Medical Sciences, Pharmacology
University of Cambridge
Cambridge, United Kingdom
£18,285 GBP

A fully funded BBSRC Collaborative Award in Science and Engineering (CASE) PhD Studentship is available with Dr Ewan St. John Smith's Sensory Neurophysiology and Pain lab, University of Cambridge and Dr James Hockley in Adaptive Immunity Research Unit, GlaxoSmithKline. Funding is available only for UK or EAA students who meet the UK residency requirements. This studentship will cover UK/EU-level University fees and a maintenance allowance of at least £18,285 per year.

The aim of this Neuro-Immunology project is to research the interaction between inflammation and pain with a specific focus on: 1) the mechanisms by which cytokines induce pain and sensitise nociceptive pathways 2) how non-canonical cytokine signalling of haematopoietic growth factors can impact nociceptor sensitisation

Project background Sensory neurones detect touch, temperature, itch and pain, all of which are key to our ability to sense our external environment. Inflammation as a result of injury or infection triggers a cascade of signals capable of sensitising these neurones. In health, this is a protective response, facilitating repair of the damaged tissue. However, in disease, such as chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, the sensitisation of pain pathways is often maladaptive and leads to significant morbidity.

Understanding the molecular basis by which mediators released by resident or recruited blood-derived immune cells are capable of sensitising pain pathways is vital to the goal of developing better anti-inflammatory and analgesic medicines.

The work will provide insights into the basic interactions between immune cell mediators and sensory neurones, and will further the development of novel analgesic mechanism to treat pain in chronic inflammatory diseases.

Techniques The successful candidate will be provided with comprehensive training in molecular neuroscience, including: - Cell culture of primary neurons - Molecular biology techniques such as PCR and qPCR - Functional techniques such as Ca2+-imaging and patch-clamp electrophysiology - In vivo models, retrograde tracing and behavioural experiments

The lab also runs projects involving ex vivo electrophysiology, viral delivery and chemogenetic manipulation of neuronal activity, which the student will have the opportunity to contribute to.

Environment The student will join a vibrant and engaging research group focused on understanding the molecular basis of pain in conditions such as arthritis and colitis within the Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge. A key component of the studentship is the industry collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, providing a minimum 3-month research placement in their worldwide Research & Development headquarters in Stevenage.

Skills/Attributes - A willingness to learn new techniques and leverage those skills to solve research challenges. - Demonstrable self-motivation and independent initiative. - Excellent team working and communication skills (oral and written). - Obtained or expect to obtain a minimum 2.1 degree (or equivalent) in Biomedical Sciences, Pharmacology, Neuroscience, Immunology, Cellular or Molecular Biology and Biochemistry or an equivalent course.

For further information about the project, please feel free to contact Ewan:

The starting date for this PhD will be October 2020. To apply for this studentship, please send; 1. Your CV (max two A4 pages), with full contact details of 2 academic referees. 2. A covering letter (max. two A4 pages) highlighting: (a) your research interests, (b) why you wish to undertake this particular PhD project, and (c) your career aspirations beyond the course by email to Ms Amparo Saez ( to arrive no later than 28 February 2020. Interviews will be held on the afternoon of March 9th. Please note that any offer of funding will be conditional on securing a place as a PhD student at the University of Cambridge. Candidates will need to apply separately for admission through the University's Graduate Admissions application portal; this can be done before or after applying for this funding opportunity. Note that there is a £65 fee for PhD applications. The applicant portal can be accessed via:

Please quote reference PL22520 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

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Parnesh Sharma, M.Phil., University of Cambridge