University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


Research Associate (Fixed Term)

Applications are invited for a postdoctoral research associate position to study the role of GABAergic mechanisms in visual perceptual learning, based in the laboratories of Professor Jeff Dalley (Department of Psychology) and Dr Steve Sawiak (Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience) at the University of Cambridge.

The successful candidate will investigate how GABAergic signalling in the visual cortex contributes to the speed and accuracy of visual discrimination learning. The project will investigate the relationship between GABA release, assessed using ultra-high-field magnetic resonance imaging, and behavioural performance on a touchscreen based visual discrimination and detection task. Mechanistic insights will be informed using pharmacological interventions to selectively increase or decrease the availability of GABA in the extracellular compartment. GABA-targeting compounds will be delivered locally in the visual cortex using state-of-the-art drug-delivery devices developed in Cambridge (Prof. Malliaras, Department of Engineering).

Applicants should have completed a PhD in neuroscience, biology, experimental psychology, bioengineering, or other relevant disciplines. We are looking for someone with previous experience in behavioural neuroscience and psychopharmacology in rodents, with strong data analysis skills (e.g. Matlab or Python). Experience with magnetic resonance imaging would be desirable, but is not essential.

The research position is available from May 2023 for an initial 2-year period with the possibility of an extension for up to a further 3 years.

In addition to the covering letter, CV, and contact details of 2 referees, applicants are asked to provide a brief statement (500 words) describing the questions and approach they consider important for the study of the role of cortical inhibition in visual learning and their future career ambitions.

The research activity is at the core of a new Wellcome Trust-funded Collaborative Award, which brings together a cross-disciplinary team of international experts to investigate the role of GABAergic inhibition in regulating brain network dynamics for adaptive behaviour. The work programme bridges work across species (mice, humans) and scales (local circuits, global networks) to uncover the network and neurochemical mechanisms that support learning and brain plasticity. The work capitalises on cutting-edge methodological developments in our team: a) human and animal ultra-high-field MR spectroscopy and functional brain imaging (Emir lab, Purdue; Kourtzi and Sawiak lab, Cambridge), b) neuroengineering tools including optical GABA sensors (Looger lab: UCSD) and electrophoretic drug delivery devices (Malliaras lab, Cambridge), cellular imaging, optogenetics, electrophysiology, neuropharmacology (Dalley, Paulsen, Poort labs, Cambridge; Rusakov lab: UCL).

This international collaborative network provides unique opportunities for cross-disciplinary training in innovative methodologies at the interface of animal and human neuroscience, neurotechnology and computational science. Successful applicants will be integrated in a diverse collaborative team and will have the opportunity to participate in workshops and retreats across the network as well as exchange visits across labs to facilitate cross-disciplinary training and collaborative working.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 2 years in the first instance.

Click the 'Apply' button below to register an account with our recruitment system (if you have not already) and apply online.

For informal inquiries, please contact Professor Jeff Dalley at and/or Professor Steve Sawiak at

Closing Date: Monday 3rd April at 12 Midnight

Interviews: Early December

Please quote reference PJ35739 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Further information

Apply online