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PhD opportunities

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Apply by: 12 noon, Friday 16 September 2022
Supervisors: Dr Joanna MartinDr Kate Langley, and Professor Anita Thapar

The studentship is generously funded by the School of Medicine and is open to all UK students without further restrictions.

The studentship will commence in January 2023 and cover full UK tuition fees and doctoral stipend matching UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) National Minimum (2022/3 - £16,062).

Project description:
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common and highly impairing neurodevelopmental disorder that is associated with life-long adverse social, educational, and health outcomes. Diagnosis of ADHD is often delayed and may even be missed entirely in many females.

The aim of this PhD project is to increase knowledge of ADHD in females, including potential reasons for delayed diagnosis. The specific aims are to:

1. Identify potential compensatory factors and negative coping strategies associated with delayed ADHD diagnosis, particularly in females.

2. Determine the impact of ADHD diagnosis timing on impairments in social and educational functioning.

3. Test the association between common and rare neurodevelopmental genetic risks and use of coping strategies and protective factors in individuals with and without ADHD.

Apply online.

Neuroscience and mental health PhD projects

Applications to the GW4 BioMed2 MRC DTP will be accepted via this online form until 5pm on Wednesday, 2nd November 2022. For guidance on the application criteria and decision timeline, please see the information here.

For full project descriptions, including contact details for the lead supervisor, click the download link on the project title.

Despite the assumption that common risk alleles for schizophrenia trigger brain changes that explain clinical symptoms, this association has not been clearly demonstrated. The lack of specificity in genomic approaches and the use of sub-optimal brain phenotypes have hindered progress. This project aims to implement innovative imaging and analytical methods to address this conundrum, potentially leading to improved diagnosis and new targets for treatment development.

Lead Supervisor: Dr Xavier Caseras

In mice and humans loss-of-function of the steroid sulfatase (STS) enzyme results in inattention but enhanced motor response inhibition; we aim to understand the neurobiology underlying this dissociation using a new mouse model. The project will develop behavioural neuroscience research skills, will have direct clinical relevance to X-linked ichthyosis (STS deficiency), and will signpost mechanisms associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder subtypes.

Lead Supervisor: Dr William Davies

Numerous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) show a strong, but poorly understood neuroinflammatory component to most neurological diseases. This project will leverage such GWAS data from several neurological and inflammatory conditions to determine the relationships between immune system genes and underlying neurological pathologies and in addition to understanding the genetic influence of aging-dependent inflammatory changes.

Lead Supervisor: Prof Valentina Escott-Price

Deficits in the molecular mechanisms of memory are thought to be central to the psychiatric pathology associated with schizophrenia. New methods now allow us to explore deeper into the molecular dynamics of memory and refine our understanding of the impacts from schizophrenia. This interdisciplinary project aims to profile neuronal gene expression required for memory retrieval and extinction, and determine the molecular pathways of relevance to schizophrenia.

Lead Supervisor: Prof Jeremy Hall

Common and rare variants in the gene encoding the neuronal transcription factor Sp4 have been linked to schizophrenia. This project explores how those variants alter the ability of Sp4 to regulate the activity of the genome. The student will gain a range of sophisticated in vivo, molecular biology, and bioinformatic techniques and apply these in order unravel the biology that links Sp4 to brain function, and identify what goes wrong in schizophrenia.

Lead Supervisor: Prof Anthony Isles

People with bipolar disorder (BD) experience disabling episodes of high and low mood, but how mood fluctuates between episodes could provide key insights into the condition. This project will use long-term digital mood-monitoring data from the largest sample of people with BD in the world. The student will learn cutting-edge statistical methods to test if dynamic measures of mood are associated with clinical outcomes and genetic risk factors in people with BD.

Lead Supervisor: Dr Katie Lewis

Severe childhood irritability is a common symptom across many mental health disorders and a common reason for mental health service referral. It is uncertain if irritability is a behavioural, neurodevelopmental or mood problem. This PhD will use longitudinal, population cohorts to examine irritability across development and test the hypothesis that there are different types of irritability, differentiated by developmental course, genetic and environmental aetiology.

Lead Supervisor: Dr Lucy Riglin
Institution: Cardiff

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is associated with increased oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in the brain. The Redox system that helps detoxify neurons is decreased in  AD patients and likely contributes to symptoms and neurodegeneration. The PhD student will manipulate Redox and mitochondrial regulating genes in Drosophila and iPSC neuron models of AD to find new potential therapeutic targets.

Lead Supervisor: Dr Gaynor Ann Smith

A large proportion of people with 22q11.2DS, a syndrome where a segment of DNA and associated genes are missing from chromosome 22, will fall ill with some form of psychiatric disorder. We suspect this increased risk for psychopathology is due to abnormalities in the brain metabolism of microRNAs. We will test this idea using patient-derived human neurons in partnership with Takeda who will provide support and a training secondment at the company in Tokyo, Japan.

Lead Supervisor: Prof Lawrence Wilkinson

Apply now

For information on how to apply visit GW4 Biomed.

Get in touch

For any questions related to our PhD research programmes, please contact:

Psychiatric Medicine PhDs