PhD Studentship: Synthesis of Luminescent probes for imaging neural cell activity in real-time

Loughborough University

Application details:
Reference number: CM-CDT3/PR2/2017
Start date: 1st October 2017

Primary supervisor: Stephen Butler
Secondary supervisor: Steve Christie

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Graduate School, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career.

Find out more:

Project Detail:
This project is part of an ambitious 5-student centre for doctoral training at Loughborough University within the area of brain-on-a-chip technologies.  

There is an urgent need for research into neurodegenerative diseases, however our lack of understanding of complex brain circuitry restricts modelling and evaluation for future healthcare strategies. This project focusses on the development of novel chemical probes to monitor metabolic activity and state of viability of neural cells within specialised neuronal networks.

The successful candidate will synthesise a series of novel imaging probes tuned to detecting changes in their chemical environment, bridging the significant gap in knowledge between the changes observed in single cells and those occurring in complex neural cell populations. Our current understanding of the dynamic changes and molecular basis of neural activity is far from complete, with difficulty in assessing tissue at the single cell level. In this project, we will build upon our library of luminescent probes by synthesising anion binding probes to monitor cell function using high-resolution fluorescence microscopy. Such probes will detect changes in their surroundings non-invasively and will be applied to the study of living neural circuits.

This is a highly interdisciplinary opportunity for researchers interested in developing skills within a specified discipline whilst working and contributing across a discipline boundary. This PhD team will bring together researchers from different disciplines: biologists, chemists, mathematicians, and material engineers.

Entry requirements:
Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in a related subject. 

Funding information:
Studentships will be funded through an EPSRC DTP. This 42 month project will be part of a 5-student cohort, working collaboratively to deliver specific goals. Each studentship will be further enhanced by a DTP-specific induction and additional training around impact. The studentship consists of a tax-free stipend of £14,553 per annum, plus UK/EU tuition fees. Additional funds via a Research Training Support Grant will support, e.g. conference attendance. Due to funding restrictions, this is only available to those who are eligible to pay UK/EU fees. In order to qualify for a full award, all applicants must meet the EPSRC eligibility criteria including the minimum UK residency requirement

Contact details:

Name: Dr Paul Roach or Dr Stephen Butler
Email address: or

How to apply:
All applications should be made online at Under programme name, select ‘Chemistry’

Please quote reference number: CM-CDT3/PR2/2017

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Midlands of England