Molecular re-awakening of quiescent stem cells in diverse areas of the mammalian brain (HAJIHOSSEINI_U17DTP)

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Start Date:  1st October 2017

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Dr Mohammad Hajihosseini 

Project description: 
Healthy ageing of the adult mammalian brain is compromised by its inability to replace neurons that are lost to ‘wear and tear’ or genetically-driven neurodegenerative processes. Recent discoveries, however, show that diverse areas of the adult mammalian brain may harbour stem/ progenitor cells (*), but these are largely kept asleep or in a slow dividing state. Re-wakening these cells may offer a tool for neuronal replenishment of aged brain. Work from our laboratory suggests that distinct members of the Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family are expressed by and act within these stem cells themselves, to possibly induce a state of dormancy. For this project, we seek a highly-motivated and enthusiastic student to investigate the molecular interactions through which FGF operate to induce this dormancy. Both in vivo and in vitro approaches will be used. The investigations include: (i) measuring how slow these stem/progenitors divide in vivo and whether taking the cells out of their normal environment or reducing FGF function enhances their division and production of new neurons; (ii) identifying the proteins that interact with FGF within cells to regulate a state of dormancy, and (iii) validating the nature of the interactions between FGF and the identified candidates.

The student will join a dynamic team of neuroscientists and become trained in a host of cellular and molecular techniques ranging from tissue sectioning, immunolabelling and high-resolution image capture/analysis, to gene cloning, in situ hybridization, proteomics and bioinformatics. The student will also acquire a strong personal and professional development portfolio, in preparation for a research career.

Person specification: Minimum entry 2:1

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,296pa – 2016/7), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

Details on eligibility for funding on the BBSRC website:

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