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PhD Studentship in Biosciences (PhD Studentship)

Reference Number: R2247
Closing Date: Closed for applications
Duration: 3 years
Funding Amount: UK/EU fees, plus Doctoral Stipend
Level of Study: Postgraduate Research
Regions: EU (Non UK), International (Non EU), UK
This funding opportunity is now closed for application

Project title: Investigation of cortical memory circuits in normal and disease model mice using synaptic optogenetics

This project, which will start on 1st July 2014, is a joint venture between the Kasai and Fox labs and is aimed at understanding the structural basis of synaptic plasticity in the living brain. The project is funded by the UK's Medical Research Council and by the Japanese Science and Technology agency.

Novel optogenetic methods and in vivo 2-photon microscopy will be used to label and image newly formed spines in the barrel cortex and visual cortex. Mutant animals lacking specific proteins required for specific aspects of synaptic plasticity will be used to understand the relationship between functional plasticity and new spine formation on the one hand and enlargement of pre-existing spines on the other. The dependence of functional plasticity measured in the cortex on the enlarged spines will be tested using a novel probe that specifically eliminates spines undergoing enlargement.

The impairment of these plasticity processes in mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and autism will be tested using mutant models of the conditions. The successful PhD student will be involved in all aspects of the imaging project including preparation, labelling, imaging in vivo and data analysis. The project will involve collaborative interaction and visits to the Kasai lab in Tokyo as well as close interactions with post-doctoral researchers in the Fox lab.

Supervisors: Prof. Kevin Fox

Start date:1 July 2014

Number of Studentships: 1


This studentship is very generously funded by the UK Medical Research Council and the Japan Science and Technology Agency. It consists of full UK/EU tuition fees, as well as a Doctoral Stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum (£13,863 p.a. for 2014/15, updated each year).

One studentship is available.


Residency: This studentship is open to students of any nationality. However, the studentship only covers UK/EU fees: students classified as international for fee purposes have to self-fund the difference between home and international fees.

Academic criteria: Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a 2.1 degree or higher in Neuroscience or other closely related subjects, or the overseas equivalent. Candidates must have good knowledge of Physics (A-Level) and good knowledge of Biochemistry.

How to Apply

Consideration is automatic on applying for PhD in Biosciences, with a start date of July 2014 via Cardiff University's Online Application Service.

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select "I will be applying for a scholarship / grant" and specify that you are applying for advertised funding from the UK Medical Research Council and the Japan Science and Technology Agency.

The deadline for applications is 15 May 2014.

Further Information

For further information on this funding opportunity, please see the following websites:

Research at the School of Biosciences

The Cardiff School of Biosciences became famous for the work of its former (and founding) director, Professor Sir Martin Evans FRS, which was recognized by Sir Martin’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2007 (together with Mario Cappechi and Oliver Smithies) "for their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells". Under its current director, Medical Research Council Professor Ole Petersen CBE FRS, who pioneered patch clamp single channel and whole cell current recordings in epithelial cells and discovered intracellular calcium tunnels, the School provides a dynamic and stimulating research environment with impressive modern facilities and high-calibre research-active staff.

In the authoritative 2013 Annual World University Ranking (based on research strength and performance), compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University (), Life Sciences at Cardiff University is in the top 100 worldwide and in the top 10 in the UK.