The vulnerability of white matter to induction of a human tau mutation associated with dementia

PhD studentship available full time 

Project title: The vulnerability of white matter to induction of a human tau mutation associated with dementia. 

Reference number: 17-18-008R2                     

Start date:
1 October 2018

Director of studies: Professor Robert Fern

2nd supervisor:  Dr Edgar Kramer

The University of Plymouth's Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry are seeking to attract PhD candidates of outstanding ability to join their exciting and rapidly expanding programme of internationally-rated research. The Faculty are committed to research excellence with a recent £25 million investment in staff and facilities. Medical research here was ranked first for outputs in REF2014. 

Applications are invited from suitably qualified graduates, 2:1 or above. International students must have an IELTS score of 7.0 or above (with no less than 6.5 in any element). 

An essential step in many forms of dementia is the hyper-phosphorylation of a protein called tau. Until recently, the sequence of events that follow the onset of 'tauopathy' has been mapped out in the synapses and neuronal cell bodies of the brain. Brain imaging studies now show that some of the earliest changes in the demented brain occur in the white matter. In humans over 50 per cent of our brain is taken up by white matter, which houses the axons responsible for making connections within the brain and between the brain and the body. We have recently shown that induction of tauopathy in a genetic model produces very rapid pathological changes in white matter. This studentship will explore the underlying mechanism of these changes, which result in a novel phenotype that may underlie progression of the disease. Techniques will include electron microscopy, electrophysiology and cell imaging; full training will be provided. 

The lab is mid-sized (4-8 members), in the heart of a region of outstanding natural beauty. All PhD students who have passed through the lab have published at least one full, primary author paper. A recent example is Doyle et al., ('Vesicular glutamate release from central axons triggers myelin damage that is responsive to receptor sub-unit selective therapy.' Nature Communications, in press).

For further information, please contact Professor Robert Fern However, applications must be made in accordance with the details shown below.

Funding Notes: 

The studentship is supported for three years including full Home/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of an estimated £14,777 per annum. The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for Home/EU fees, with relevant qualifications. Applicants required to pay overseas fees will have to cover the difference between the Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates. For the 2018/2019 academic year, the difference is £10,610 per annum. If selected you will be required to provide financial assurances. 

Please note that due to funder requirements, only full-time applications can be considered on this occasion.

To apply:

Follow this link and click ‘Apply now’ to access the application form. Please mark the application with REF: 17-18-008R2, for the attention of Francesca Niedzielski. A project proposal is not required. 

Further information on the application process. If you have any questions on the admissions process contact 

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on Sunday 15 July 2018. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview. Applicants who have not received an offer of a place by 17 August 2018 should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.