Project code



School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

Start dates

February and October

Application deadline

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded PhD to commence in October 2020 or February 2021.

The PhD will be based in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, and will be supervised by Dr Sassan Hafizi and Professor 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 Life Sciences and Healthcare (ILSH), 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.

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

Entry Requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in a relevant subject area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Biomedical Sciences PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.