Medicine: Swansea University Research Excellence Scholarship: Mass Spectrometry Imaging of Human Brain

Closing date: 22 January 2018

Key Information

Swansea University Research Excellence Scholarships (SURES)

Swansea University is proud to offer 15 fully-funded PhD scholarships for students commencing study in October 2018 or January 2019.

The scholarships will be awarded on the basis of student excellence across a portfolio of 34 potential projects.

Project title: Mass Spectrometry Imaging of Human Brain

Start date: October 2018

The aim of the project is to exploit mass spectrometry imaging for the study of neurodegeneration within the central nervous system (CNS). Mass spectrometry imaging is an emerging and powerful tool enabling the visualisation of the spatial distribution of biological molecules in intact tissue. Thanks to funding from RCUK we have developed a unique mass spectrometry imaging technology which provides a biomolecular image of a thin slice (10 µm) of rodent brain with a spatial resolution of 0.1 mm, for the exact molecular characterisation of lipid molecules within the tissue with femtomole sensitivity. In this project we will extend the technology to the study of human brain and spinal cord tissue, available from human brain banks, specifically to investigate the neurodegenerative disorders multiple sclerosis (MS) and motor neuron disease (MND). This will allow us to observe differences between healthy and diseased tissue at the molecular level from intact human tissue slices. MS is an autoimmune disease of the CNS resulting in demyelination of the insulating covers of nerve cells leading to nerve cell loss, while MND results in loss of upper or lower motor neurons, the underlying cause of both diseases is unknown. Lipids in general, and cholesterol and its metabolites in particular, are implicated in these neurodegenerative diseases. By comparing the molecular composition and distribution of lipids in disease and healthy tissue we expect to increase our understanding of the etiology of neurodegenerative diseases, identify pathological markers and design novel therapeutics.

Supervisors / Academic Contacts:  Professor William Griffiths / Dr Owain Howell

The successful applicant will have access to our Postgraduate Research Student Training programmes.

Eligibility

Candidates should have (or expect to obtain) a first class honours degree (or equivalent) and/or a master's degree with distinction in a related subject area (chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacy, biomedicine).

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK/EU candidates only.

Funding

The scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £14,553 for 3 years. 

There will also be £1,000 per annum available for research expenses such as travel, accommodation, field trips and conference attendance.

How to Apply

To apply please complete and return the following documents to Dr Vivienne Jenkins (pgrsures@swansea.ac.uk) quoting reference SUMS3:

Student applications will be evaluated against the following criteria:

  • Literary and Academic attainments (60%)
  • Demonstrable esteem indicators i.e. ambassadorial skills, instincts and opportunities to demonstrate leadership, experience and interest in extracurricular and community activities (40%)

Informal enquiries before the deadline are welcome and should be directed to Professor William J. Griffiths (w.j.griffiths@swansea.ac.uk / +44 (0)7796 776363).