Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain (SIDB) PhD Studentships

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Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain

Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain (SIDB) PhD studentships 2023

Applications are invited for 3.5 year full-time PhD studentships, fully funded with a generous stipend, in subjects spanning basic and translational brain sciences in the biological mechanisms underlying autism. These studentships represent an exceptional opportunity for well-qualified, motivated individuals to conduct new research in an expert and highly-supportive environment. The projects on offer are (alphabetical by 1st supervisor):

  • Dissecting the molecular mechanisms regulating axonal eEF1A1 protein synthesis 1st Supervisor: Cathy Abbott, 2nd Supervisor: Paul Donlin-Asp
  • Molecular genetic analysis of a chromatin-related pathway that is disrupted in several autism spectrum disorders 1st Supervisor: Adrian Bird, 2nd Supervisor: Katie Paton, 3rd Supervisor: Matt Lyst
  • The role of somatostatin in developing cortical circuits leading to altered cellular and synaptic function in autism 1st Supervisor: Sam Booker
  • Neural Circuits of Kinship Behaviour 1st Supervisor: Ann Clemens
  • Blocking absence seizures in models of SYNGAP1 and GRIN2B disorders using pharmacology, brain stimulation and gene therapy 1st Supervisor: Alfredo Gonzalez-Sulser, 2nd Supervisor: Stuart Cobb
  • Synaptome complexity in autism 1st Supervisor: Seth Grant, 2nd Supervisor: Noboru Komiyama
  • Application of single photon avalanche diode voltage imaging to investigation of seizure activity in models of autism spectrum disorders 1st Supervisor: Matt Nolan
  • Visual discrimination deficits in a mouse model of SYNGAP1 haploinsufficiency 1st Supervisor: Nathalie Rochefort
  • High-throughput single neuron resolution mapping of connectopathies in animal models of neurodevelopmental disorders 1st Supervisor: Gulsen Surmeli, 2nd Supervisor: Sara Wade
  • Investigating a role of Cdkl5 in cortical development involving the primary cilium 1st supervisor: Thomas Theil, 2nd Supervisor: Tom Pratt
  • Improving cognitive phenotypes in a rat model of SYNGAP1 haploinsufficiency 1st Supervisor: Sally Till, 2nd Supervisor: Alfredo Gonzalez-Sulser
  • Characterisation of tactile and pain sensitivity in a CRISPR/Cas9 Grin2b rat model of autism 1st Supervisor: Carole Torsney, 2nd Supervisor: David Wyllie
  • Cerebello-thalamo-cortical network dynamics during fear learning in a rat model of ASD 1st Supervisor: Thomas Watson, 2nd Supervisor: Peter Kind

Candidates should select up to three of the PhD projects listed - each application should be submitted on a separate application form. In the application form you should indicate why you are interested in the project and why you would be a good fit for the project.

Applicants should have a good (2:1 or higher) undergraduate degree in a relevant subject (including, but not necessarily limited to, neuroscience, biomedical sciences, molecular biology, genetics or computational biology).

The successful candidate will be based within the Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain in the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine (CMVM) at the University of Edinburgh. They will join a vibrant, successful, highly-collaborative community of researchers across the University of Edinburgh examining the biological mechanisms underlying autism.

About the Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain (SIDB)

SIDB (www.sidb.org.uk) is a philanthropic Centre funded by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI, www.sfari.org). The over-arching purpose of SIDB is to discover the biological mechanisms underlying autism and to use this information to deliver rational therapeutic interventions. To achieve this, it brings together neuroscientists at the University of Edinburgh studying the brain at the level of molecules, cells, circuitry and behaviour, alongside clinical studies. This approach allows SIDB to address key aims in the study of autism:

  1. To determine whether there are critical periods during development when treatments are most effective and, if so, whether critical periods are treatment specific.
  2. To determine whether genetic convergence predicts convergence of phenotypic pathophysiology.
  3. To prepare deep-phenotyped trial ready cohorts.

The range of research themes within SIDB offer a unique opportunity to contribute to world-class research within autism studies. SIDB researchers within these research themes utilise a range of techniques to explore the biological mechanisms underlying autism. Students will have a principal, second supervisor and, depending on the project, a third supervisor to support and guide them towards submission of a PhD thesis within 3.5 years.

Eligibility and funding

This is a Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain funded award. It will provide an annual stipend for 3.5 years of £20,000 per annum which will be amended annually in line with annual RCUK stipend percentage changes (currently based on the GDP deflator), plus tuition fees (including international).

Applicants should also meet the entry requirements – including English language requirements – for admission to postgraduate programmes at the University of Edinburgh. 

How to apply and deadline

  • SIDB are now recruiting for entry in September 2023. Projects are advertised on the EdNeuro.PhD Platform where you can find full details of all projects.
  • Candidates should select up to three of the SIDB PhD projects listed but each application should be submitted on a separate application form. In your application, you should indicate why you are interested in, why you would be a good fit for, that project.
  • Please download the Application Form  and, when completed, email it to edneuro.phd@ed.ac.uk
  • Pelase ensure your two references are also submitted by the deadline
  • Deadline: 5 pm, 16 January 2023
  • Interviews will be held in February 2023

Shortlisted candidates will be asked to make contact with the named supervisor(s) for their chosen project(s) to discuss the project in more detail; in most cases this will take the form of meetings in-person on or near the interview day, but discussions can take place by phone or Skype if necessary. The studentships will begin in September 2023.

If you have an enquiry about the programme please email Natacia Hambakis Hatch (SIDB Scientific Administrator).