Self-funded PhD opportunities

The role of Gas6 as a mediator of repair in demyelinating disease of the CNS.

  • Application end date: Applications accepted all year round
  • Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only
  • Department: School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr. Sassan Hafizi and Prof. Arthur Butt

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease caused by damage to oligodendrocytes, the specialised myelin-forming glial cells in the CNS, thus impairing normal nerve electrical impulse transmission. However, the CNS contains stem cells such as oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs); these could be activated to proliferate and form new oligodendrocytes as part of a repair response that produces new myelin insulation for damaged nerves. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms that drive oligodendrocyte regeneration could enable ways in which to promote it as part of MS therapy. Gas6 is a vitamin K-dependent protein that activates the TAM receptors, all of which have been implicated as role players in the brain at least during development and remodelling/repair in diseases such as MS. The aim of this PhD project is to investigate the role of Gas6 in promoting repair in demyelinating disease and the molecular mechanisms by which it could achieve this.

The project lies within the neurosciences with a focus towards cell biology and signalling. The student will be trained in a range of cell biological and biochemical techniques, including in vitro cell culture, ex vivo tissue sampling and culture, molecular expression analyses, immunohistochemical techniques, confocal microscopy, and genomic and proteomic analyses. The effects of Gas6 on oligodendrocyte precursor cells will be a major focus, in order to understand their response to this stimulation and subsequent role in remyelination of damaged brain cells. The student will join a collaborative research grouping within vibrant environment of the university’s Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Science (IBBS), where all the facilities required for the study are established.

In addition you will have access to a skills development program run by the university’s Graduate School. The experimental and analytical skills developed during this project will prepare the student well for a future career in academia or industry.

Research Group Web Site: http://www.port.ac.uk/school-of-pharmacy-and-biomedical-sciences/research/

Supervisor(s): Dr. Sassan Hafizi and Prof. Arthur Butt (School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences)

Funding Status: Self funded - University fees (currently, £13,100 for International Students and £4,052 for Home and EU students) + (plus additional bench fees of £6,000 per annum).

Search terms: Growth factors, signal transduction, cell biology, brain, CNS, myelin, multiple sclerosis. Neuroscience.

Click here to apply.