Cardiff University President's Research Scholarship: Drug Discovery - Advanced neuroimaging in Multiple Sclerosis: quantifying treatment effects to develop improved therapies (PhD Studentship)
Reference Number: R466
Key Studentship Information
Applications are invited for a PhD studentship under Cardiff University’s prestigious President’s Research Scholarship Scheme: Drug Discovery, from best science to commercial development. This year we wish to recruit students to begin in October 2012, or January 2013 at the latest.
This is a Cardiff University President's Research Scholarship, part of a new £4M investment to coincide with the inauguration of Professor Sir Martin Evans (Nobel Prize for Medicine 2007) as Cardiff’s new President. All of the University Schools and Research Centres offering opportunities under the programme have demonstrated the real potential of the Scholarships to contribute to research excellence through significant, challenging and original PhD research projects and excellent PhD supervision and support. Other attractive features of the Scholarships include the presence of multiple President’s Scholars in each of the research areas and the guaranteed exposure of President’s Scholars to innovative technologies, theories, methodological approaches, and debates. More information on the President's Research Scholarships scheme is available here.
Project Title: Drug Discovery - Advanced neuroimaging in Multiple Sclerosis: quantifying treatment effects to develop improved therapies
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) has become established as a research tool for examining normal brain function. Recent advances in fMRI techniques are now making it possible to measure the effects of diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and drug therapies within the brain. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) causes progressive disability in young adults, seriously compromising the most economically and socially productive years of adult life. An improved understanding of how diseases modify brain function will contribute to the development of new treatments. Furthermore, the development of MRI measures of the effects of drugs will help us to optimise treatments for patients. There is a pressing need in the pharmaceutical industry for better ways of measuring the effectiveness of treatments for brain diseases. With improved measurements, new treatments can be brought more cheaply and quickly into clinical use.
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC) is a state-of-the-art imaging facility equipped not only with a 3 Tesla clinical MRI system for structural and functional MRI, but also electroencephalography, magnetoencephalography and a high performance computing cluster. At CUBRIC, Prof Richard Wise’s group is working on improving MRI techniques for measuring brain function and drug effects on it in terms of alterations in nerve cell activity, blood flow to the brain and brain metabolism. Prof Wise is applying these methods in patients with MS in collaboration with Dr Valentina Tomassini (Consultant Neurologist and Senior Lecturer in the School of Medicine) to assess the effects of inflammation and its pharmacological treatment on brain function.
The PhD project would develop FMRI measurements for the study of brain inflammation and its effects on nerve, vascular and metabolic brain function. You would establish and test a robust toolbox of MRI measures of brain function including: optimised blood oxygen sensitive FMRI, brain blood flow and brain metabolism in regions important for the disease. These MRI measurements would be used to quantify the effects of MS in the brain. In the longer term, these would be applied in clinical trials of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments.
CUBRIC would offer excellent training in research methods in advanced non-invasive human neuroimaging. You would have the opportunity to develop your ideas for evaluating brain function in volunteers and patients. You would have the opportunity to work within a vibrant team in an interdisciplinary research environment. Increasingly, bio-medical research crosses the boundaries between biological and physical sciences and this is where many advances are being made. This project would involve you working with imaging physicists (Prof Wise) as well as medical doctors (Dr Tomassini is a Neurologist) and psychologists. The project would also offer the prospect of working with the pharmaceutical industry. To see your project being adopted to help develop new drug treatments would be an exciting prospect.
The student we are looking for should be highly numerate with a strong interest in imaging. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the project it would suit a physical science graduate (e.g. physicist or engineer) who is interested in learning about brain physiology and function, and methods used to measure it. Equally the project would suit a graduate in biological sciences with knowledge of human physiology (e.g. neuroscience, psychology, physiology) who is comfortable with maths and computing.
Proposed Start Date: October 2012 (preferred) or January 2013
This is a Cardiff University President's Research Scholarship. The award includes full UK/EU tuition fees plus a doctoral stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum (£13,590 p.a. for 2012/13, updated each year).
Number of Awards Available: 1
Academic Criteria: We require a First Class Honours degree or a 2.1 plus a postgraduate Masters degree at Distinction level (or their equivalents).
We aim to attract the highest quality numerate graduates who are motivated to apply their skills to neuroimaging research questions. We are pleased to consider a broad range of graduate backgrounds including, but not limited to: physiology, neuroscience, psychology, physics, engineering, bio-engineering.
Residency: Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open applicants of any nationality. Non UK/EU students would be required to cover the difference between UK and Overseas fees themselves.
How to Apply
1. Interested students are encouraged to make informal contact with and send a CV and covering letter to Prof Richard Wise, CUBRIC, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Park Place, Cardiff, UK, CF10 3AT.
2. An application for the Doctor of Philosophy (Psychology) (Oct) – RFPDPSYA or Doctor of Philosophy (Psychology) (Jan) – RFPDPSYB should then be made using the Online Application Service.
Please ensure you mention in the funding section of the application that you are applying for this particular studentship with Prof Wise as supervisor (“President’s Scholarship: Drug Discovery. Supervisor: Prof Wise”). You do not need to submit a research proposal as such but we do encourage you to explain why this studentship appeals to you and how it relates to your areas of study and expertise.
Application Deadline: 24th August 2012
For more information contact Prof Richard Wise:
Telephone: +44 (0) 29 208 70358