PhD Studentship: Mathematical Network Models Informed by Engineered Living Neural Network Activity

Loughborough University

Application details:
Reference number: CM-CDT2/PR2/2017
Start date: 1st October 2017

Supervisors:
Primary supervisor: Natalia Janson
Secondary supervisor: Paul Roach

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: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/supporting-you/research/

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. Technological breakthroughs now allow us to engineer living nerve cell-circuits. We will engineer precisely defined circuits allowing experimental and computational models to be compared and validated these for the first time.

An outstanding problem in neuroscience is the ability to non-invasively suppress or manipulate unwanted brain activity or ‘rhythms,’ which occur due to spontaneous synchronization of large nerve networks. This behaviour can lead to epilepsy, Parkinsonian symptoms, or tremors. Several approaches have been developed recently within the theory of dynamical systems, which show promising results with numerical models of neural circuits, but have not yet been experimentally validated. We will establish mathematical models with real living neuronal inputs to better understand the biological aspects of nerve connections.

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 mathematics. This is a highly multidisciplinary programme and applications are welcomed from students having strong background in their specialty who are interested in working in an exciting and rapidly developing field.

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 https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/help/eligibility/.

Contact details:
Name: Dr Paul Roach
Email address: P.Roach@lboro.ac.uk

How to apply:
All applications should be made online at http://www.lboro.ac.uk/study/apply/research/. Under programme name, select ‘Mathematics’

Please quote reference number: CM-CDT2/PR2/2017

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

Midlands of England