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PhD Studentship -Mechanisms of treatment seeking and recovery in cannabis use disorder

University of Bath - Department of Psychology

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bath
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,777 per annum
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 8th October 2018
Closes: 23rd November 2018

Qualification type PhD
Location Bath
Closes: 23 November 2018
Funding for: UK students, EU students
Funding amount: £14,777
Hours: Full-time

Supervisory team: Dr Tom Freeman (University of Bath), Dr Lindsey Hines (Bristol), Dr George Stothart (Bath), Professor Celia Morgan (Exeter)
Email contact: 
Overview of the research This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the ‘GW4 BioMed MRC Doctoral Training Partnership’ for entry in October 2019. 

Cannabis use disorder – a problematic pattern of use causing clinically significant distress – affects 13 million people worldwide. This is set to rise further as cannabis becomes a legal drug in the USA, Canada, and beyond. Most people with a cannabis use disorder will not seek professional help. However, demand for cannabis treatment has increased dramatically in Europe. Psychosocial interventions have limited efficacy, and no pharmacotherapies are available.

This project will address these challenges in a series of complementary interdisciplinary studies.

The first will use rich prospective data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) study and health data linkage. It will explore the course of cannabis use disorder onset, cessation, and prevalence of treatment-seeking in UK adolescents. It will identify which demographic, mental health and cognitive factors influence the pathway from cannabis use disorder to health service engagement.

Study 2 will draw on a recently completed clinical trial for cannabis use disorder. This trial tested the effects of four-week cannabidiol treatment (CBD; a non-intoxicating cannabinoid) for reducing cannabis use. Following training in clinical trial research, the student will identify which cognitive processes (including salience attribution, response inhibition, executive functioning and working memory) underpin the treatment effects found in this clinical trial.

Study 3 will collect new data to investigate the cognitive mechanisms identified in study 2 in the laboratory. Mechanistic effects of single dose CBD vs. placebo will be probed further using EEG and eye tracking. This will provide validation of a novel experimental medicine platform for testing new treatments for cannabis use disorder.

Cannabis cessation during adolescence can abolish a major risk factor for psychosis, and offset poor adult outcomes. Therefore, understanding health service engagement and treatment efficacy in this population could have a transformative impact on mental health.

Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree in Psychology/Neuroscience, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK. An MSc or research experience in a relevant area is also desirable.
IMPORTANT: In order to apply for this project, you should apply using the DTP’s online application form:

More information on the application process may be found here:

You do NOT need to apply to the University of Bath at this stage – only those applicants who are successful in obtaining a funding offer from the DTP will be required to submit an application to study at Bath.

References: Curran, H. V., Freeman, T. P., Mokrysz, C., Lewis, D. A., Morgan, C. J., & Parsons, L. H. (2016). Keep off the grass? Cannabis, cognition and addiction. Nature Reviews Neuroscience17(5), 293-306.

Funding Studentships are open to UK/EU applicants who have been resident in the UK since September 2016 and cover Home tuition fees, Training Support Fee and a stipend (£14,777 p/a, 2018/9 rate). 

Start date 30 September 2019

Application link

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