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PhD Opportunity: Sex, Menopause and Spontaneous Alzheimer's Disease

University of East Anglia

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Norwich
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: please see advert text
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 13th January 2022
Closes: 28th February 2022
Reference: PONTIFEXM_U22FMH

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship funded by the Faculty of Medicine and Health working under the supervision of Dr Matthew Pontifex (UEA), Prof Michael Müller (UEA) and Prof Tom Wileman (Quadram Institute)

Females are at considerably greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD), despite this they remain relatively understudied in neuroscience research. Menopause has been identified as a contributing factor in this female predisposition, however the mechanisms responsible are yet to be fully elucidated. Non-canonical functions of autophagy proteins such as LC3-associated phagocytosis (LAP) are beginning to gain recognition for their involvement in neurodegenerative conditions. Indeed, deletion of a single domain (WD), of the autophagy machinery Atg16L (critical for LAP function, but dispensable for canonical autophagy), is sufficient to drive spontaneous age-associated AD pathology recapitulating key pathological hallmarks of AD including Aβ deposition, tau hyperphosphorylation and microglial activation. This project will build upon the present research using this novel model to determine the impact of sex and menopausal status upon disease pathology. The successful candidate will utilise animal models, conducting extensive behavioural and molecular analysis in order to categorise this novel model of AD, elucidating the underlying mechanisms involved. 

The project should appeal to candidates interested in neuroscience, neurodegenerative diseases, autophagy, and sexual dimorphism. The student will join the Norwich Medical School which provides a supportive research environment and access to experienced researchers. The student will receive training in behavioural tests of cognition in animals as well as molecular biology techniques. In addition to their research the student will be provided with training in scientific writing, presentation, data management, statistical analysis and will be encouraged to attend and present at national and international conferences. As such the student will gain an array of highly sort after techniques that will enhance their career prospects in neuroscience/molecular biology research.

Primary Supervisor :  Dr Matthew G Pontifex

Start date: Oct 2022

For more information on this project, please visit http://www.uea.ac.uk

This PhD project is a Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences competition for funded studentships. The studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise UK tuition fees, an annual stipend of £15,609 (2021/22 rate) and £1,000 per annum to support research training. International applicants (including EU) may apply but are required to fund the difference between UK and International tuition fees (details of tuition fees can be found on our website https://www.uea.ac.uk/study/fees-and-funding/fees).

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