MRC Doctoral Training Grant Studentships in MEG
Reference Number: R1047
Key Studentship Information
The MRC (60%) and EPSRC (40%) recently awarded the UK MEG community a partnership grant of £1.3M to build clinical research capacity in Magnetoencephalography (MEG). The partnership, led by Cardiff University, includes all 8 universities with current MEG laboratories: Aston, Cambridge (MRC-CBSU), Cardiff, Glasgow, Nottingham, Oxford, University College London (UCL) and York.
The partnership aims to drive forward the field of MEG, both by increasing scientific networking amongst the partners, as well as collaborative research in methodology and clinical applications. As part of this, an MRC Doctoral Training Grant (DTG) was awarded that funds a cohort of eight PhD students to work on collaborative research programmes between two or more of the partner sites. It is anticipated that the first four students will be appointed in 2013 and the second four in 2014, but this could change depending on the quality of the students who apply in the initial round.
We are seeking excellent candidates for a range of PhD projects all of which are related to clinical applications of MEG and, potentially, its multimodal combination with other technologies.
The proposed projects can be methods or applications focused and hence applicants will be considered from any relevant scientific discipline, including those from Psychology, Biosciences, Neuroscience, Physics, Engineering or similar.
All students will initially be recruited to Cardiff, but due to the nature of the partnership, the project offered to a student will be collaborative between any two or more of the partner universities. The final location of the student will hence depend on the balance of work and the location of the supervisors and is a topic that can be discussed at interview. There are significant funds earmarked for each student to facilitate travel and accommodation between sites.
One major advantage of this programme is that the Partners will provide integrated training of the cohort throughout the studentships. This is because the Partnership grant provides significant funds for research training and interaction, including bringing in international speakers and a yearly MEG-UK conference.
The precise details of the projects are not yet finalised for all 8 places, but priority will be given to projects that match the key aims of the partnership, namely:
- Developing new multimodal analysis and acquisition methods for using MEG in clinical applications, and deploying these methods to multiple sites
- Larger normative data collection projects across the age-ranges that combine MEG data across sites using novel analysis and bioinformatics approaches to store and query this data
- Projects targeting specific clinical application areas, particularly psychiatric conditions such as Schizophrenia and neurological diseases such as Epilepsy that are well suited to study by MEG.
In addition to MEG, potential methodologies include MRS, fMRI, DTI, TMS, behavioural studies of healthy and clinical cohorts, computational modelling and genetics.
Research Projects: The following are a non-exhaustive sample of those on offer - other projects may be offered depending on the interests of the candidate, as long as the proposed scientific programme fits the aims of the Partnership.
- MEG oscillatory dynamics and cortical excitation/inhibition in health and disease, as assessed with 3T and 7T GABA/Glutamate/Glutamine MRS: Cardiff (Singh) and Nottingham (Brookes).
- MEG of resting state networks and epilepsy: Cardiff (Hamandi and Singh), Aston (Furlong) and Nottingham (Brookes).
- The dynamics of network connectivity in health and epilepsy: York (Green, Whittington) and Cardiff (Singh, Hamandi).
- MEG Biomarkers of Schizophrenia: Glasgow (Gross and Uhlhaas), Cardiff (Singh, Walters and Linden), Nottingham (Brookes et al.), Cambridge (Shtyrov).
- Assessing changes in connectivity and induced/evoked responses, in aging, dementia and neurological conditions, during both rest and simple cognitive tasks. Methodological development and validating use in distinguishing healthy from unhealthy ageing, e.g. biomarking early stages of dementia: Cambridge (Henson, Shtyrov), UCL (Litvak), Oxford (Nobre, Woolrich, Murphy) and Cardiff (Graham, Singh).
- Patient classification (e.g. MCI vs AD) using machine-learning methods applied to MEG induced/evoked activation and dynamic connectivity metrics: Cambridge (Henson) and Oxford (Woolrich and Stokes).
- Typical and atypical (autism) information throughput in temporo-parietal areas during joint actions and co-representation: Aston (Kessler, Rippon, Furlong) and York (Tipper, Green)
- Abnormal functional and effective oscillatory connectivity in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): Aston (Kessler), Glasgow (Gross), and UCL (Barnes, Litvak).
- Age-related changes in working memory functioning: GABA, Theta, gamma, and theta-gamma coupling: Aston (Kessler), Cardiff (Linden, Singh) and Glasgow (Gross).
- MEG measurements of dynamic changes in functional connectivity: assessing non-stationarity in resting-state and task-induced data: Nottingham (Brookes), Oxford (Woolrich) and UCL (Barnes).
- Development of new MEG analysis methods for non-invasive millisecond imaging of activity within different cortical layers: UCL (Barnes, Litvak), Nottingham (Brookes) and Oxford (Woolrich).
- Model-based MEG analysis: Relating MEG measures to computational models of behaviour validated using physiologically realistic neural simulations and analysis of real data: UCL (Litvak, Barnes, Friston) and Oxford (Woolrich).
- MEG studies of the effect of rhythmic sensory stimulation/entrainment on brain oscillations: Glasgow (Gross) and Oxford (Nobre).
Supervisors: Students will have at least two co-supervisors, one at each partner site. The potential supervisor pool is large across all eight groups, encompassing all researchers using MEG, but mainly will come from the principal investigators at each site. These are:
- Cambridge (MRC-CBSU): Prof. Rik Henson and Prof. Yury Shtyrov
- Cardiff: Prof. Krish Singh and Dr Khalid Hamandi
- Glasgow: Prof. Joachim Gross and Dr Klaus Kessler
- Nottingham: Dr Matt Brookes and Prof. Peter Morris
- Oxford: Prof. Kia Nobre and Dr Mark Woolrich
- UCL: Dr Gareth Barnes and Dr Vladimir Litvak
- York: Prof. Gary Green
Start Date: 1st October 2013
About the School: The School of Psychology is one of the largest and most successful in the UK (http://www.cf.ac.uk/psych/), as recognised in every Research Assessment Exercise. We have with state-of-the art testing facilities, including CUBRIC, a fully equipped neuroimaging centre (http://psych.cf.ac.uk/cubric/), which will form the initial host site for these studentships. We have a thriving postgraduate research community, regular seminars and training sessions, and close collaborations with Psychological Medicine and Biosciences through the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute.
The studentship will commence in October 2013 or October 2014 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant. In 2013-14 the maintenance grant for full-time students is £13,726.
To check if you are eligible for the full studentship please see the MRC website and guidelines.
Number of Awards: 8
It is anticipated that the first four students will be appointed in 2013 and the second four in 2014 but this could change depending on the quality of the students who apply in the first round.
Academic Criteria: To be successful, you should possess or expect to obtain, a first-class or upper second honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject area. A postgraduate Masters degree (or equivalent) would strengthen your application, but is not a requirement. Excellent literacy, numeracy and IT skills are required, in addition to good English language skills. Applicants from the UK or EU are eligible for a full award of stipend and tuition fees.
Residency: Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the
How to Apply
The application procedure is the same as applying for any PhD in Psychology (October 2013 start date) at Cardiff University and can be made using Cardiff's online application portal (www.cardiff.ac.uk/apply). Please indicate on your application that you would like to apply for one of these studentships.
For the ‘Research Proposal’ section of the form, please just give some general areas of research that you would be keen on working in - not a specific proposal. You can use the example projects we identified as a guide to what the supervisory teams are interested in, but that does not preclude you putting forward something else that you are really interested in. It would also be good to demonstrate some interest/knowledge of MEG and why you think it would be useful in the research areas you identify.
Also, if appropriate, please give some idea as to any geographical preferences you might have in terms of where you do your PhD under this scheme. If you don't have a preference, that's fine.
Application Deadline: 5pm, 3rd May 2013
For more information please contact Mrs Lesley-Anne Strabel on Psych-PhD@cardiff.ac.uk or +44 (0)29 2087 5381.