Applicants are invited to apply for a three-year PhD studentship funded by Fight for Sight, the UK charity funding research into the prevention and treatment of blindness and eye disease. The studentship is available in the laboratory of Professor Keith Martin at the John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge jointly supervised by Dr. Richard Eva.
The central aim of this PhD project is to develop strategies for preventing blindness due to glaucoma by promoting retinal ganglion cell (RGC) survival and regeneration. This will be achieved by boosting the axon transport and signalling of growth and survival molecules.
Diseases such as glaucoma cause irreversible sight loss because RGC axons degenerate, fail to regenerate, and die. The project is a collaboration with spinal cord injury researchers (Dr Richard Eva and Professor James Fawcett) who recently demonstrated that a reason for adult CNS regenerative failure is the lack of transport of growth machinery into axons.
The student will investigate the hypothesis that growth and survival molecules are excluded from mature RGC axons, making them vulnerable to insults (such as glaucoma), and preventing axon regeneration after injury. They will then examine the optic nerve localisation of molecules that are necessary for axon regeneration and will determine how this is affected by glaucoma (experimental ocular hypertension). The student will then use a number of interventions that we have previously developed to enhance the axon transport of our candidate regenerative molecules.
The study will involve working with models of glaucoma and optic nerve injury and assessing axon transport / axon degeneration / axon regeneration. The lab also routinely employs in vitro techniques including molecular biology, neuronal cell biology, live microscopy (including laser axotomy), standard biochemistry techniques (western blotting, immunoprecipitation etc), and immunofluorescence.
This exciting project will identify novel gene therapy-based strategies for protecting RGCs during glaucoma and for enabling the regeneration of injured axons through the optic nerve. All of the work is also relevant to the search for treatments for spinal cord injury, and for understanding CNS axon function on a basic level - addressing the questions of why adult CNS axons are so vulnerable to injury and disease, and how this might be addressed.
This is a fully funded, three-year PhD studentship commencing 1st January 2019 that includes:
- A fee waiver equivalent to the Home/EU rates. Overseas students may apply but will need to fund the difference between the Home and Overseas fee from another source.
- A stipend at £17,000 per annum.
To be enrolled on the PhD course, applicants should have (or expect to obtain) at least 2:1 honors degree or equivalent. Under Fight for Sight's terms for this studentship, medically qualified candidates are NOT eligible to apply.
Applications should be made via the standard admissions procedure on the University's Graduate Admissions website (http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/how-do-i-apply)
Please quote ref ZE15901 next to the Supervisor's name.
Any queries relating to the application process should be sent to Shannon Tinley- Browne at firstname.lastname@example.org
Applicants should also send an expression of interest letter to Professor Keith Martin (email@example.com) cc. to Dr Richard Eva (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Shannon Tinley-Browne (email@example.com) prior to applying, explaining why they are interested in this studentship.
Deadline for applications for this studentship is 12 noon on 31 July 2018.
Interviews are likely during week commencing 17 September 2018.
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