Photograph of our current SPRINT MND/MS PhD students

Our current SPRINT-MND/MS students

Photograph of patient examination

Projects include clinical/psychology, nursing, and social science...

Photograph of researcher using a microscope

.......as well as laboratory-based projects

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Scottish PhDs in motor neurone disease & multiple sclerosis research

The Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews are delighted to announce the SPRINT-MND/MS (Scottish PhD Research & Innovation Network Traineeships in MND/MS) programme: a network of PhD studentships across Scotland, to promote research into all aspects of motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis.

Applicants will have a wide choice of projects supervised by world-leading researchers at these five Scottish Universities. Projects will include laboratory, clinical/psychology, nursing/allied health professional and social science-related topics.

The SPRINT-MND/MS programme is funded by the Scottish Government in partnership with the five Universities, and reflects a growing commitment to research into these neurodegenerative diseases that are a major public health threat as well as often being devastating to families. These studentships will boost and cement the flagship existing cross-disciplinary research networks that exist in Scotland for these two conditions and, ultimately, make a difference to patients’ lives.

What does the studentship include?

Studentships are for three years and include a standard non-clinical stipend*, UK/EU fees* and an allowance for consumables and travel. The cohort of SPRINT students will also be offered opportunities to attend clinics and meet patients, undertake ‘taster’ placements in a different field, and participate in public engagement and researcher networking events.

Although the programme is administered from Edinburgh, students will be registered for a PhD at the University corresponding to their primary project supervisor.

*Clinical and/or non-UK/EU applicants are eligible to apply. However, because any shortfall in stipend or fees must be met by the supervisory team, written agreement from the supervisor must accompany the application.

How to apply

Our call for applications for 2019 entry has now closed and applications are being reviewed. Students being called for interview should be informed by Friday 18 January 2019.  If you have an enquiry about the programme please email sprint-phd@ed.ac.uk

2019 Projects Available

We offered the following PhD projects as part of the SPRINT-MND/MS programme this year:
  1. Cognitive impairment, decision making and mental capacity in Motor Neurone Disease, Professor Sharon Abrahams (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Sharon Mulhern (University of Glasgow)
  2. Ghrelin-based therapies for ALS – understanding mechanisms of action, Dr Gayle Doherty (University of St Andrews) and Dr Jenni Harvey (University of Dundee)
  3. Developing the next generation of therapies for the childhood motor neuron disease, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), Professor Tom Gillingwater (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Simon Parson (University of Aberdeen)
  4. The eye as a window to the central nervous system – an artificial intelligence approach to biomarker discovery for MS, Dr Tom MacGillivray (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Bal Dhillon (University of Edinburgh)
  5. Investigating the pathophysiology in Motor Neuron Disease (MND/ALS) using rodent and human iPSC-based models, Professor Gareth Miles (University of St Andrews) and Professor Siddharthan Chandran (University of Edinburgh)
  6. Role of vitamin D in neuroinflammation, Dr Dirk Sieger (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Anne Astier (University of Edinburgh)
  7. Quantitative interactomics to identify cellular pathways affected in Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Dr Judith Sleeman (University of St Andrews) and Professor Simon Parson (University of Aberdeen)
  8. Heparin mimetics as a novel therapeutic for CNS repair, Prof Sue Barnett (University of Glasgow) and Professor Catherina Becker (University of Edinburgh)
  9. Modelling length dependent axonal degeneration in vitro, Dr Mathis Riehle (University of Glasgow) and Professor Thomas Gillingwater (University of Edinburgh)
  10. Mechanisms of axonal transport and dysfunction in neurodegeneration, Professor Andrew Tobin (University of Glasgow) and Dr James Hislop (University of Aberdeen)

2018 Entry Studentships Awarded

Calum Bonthron is working on the project Studying synaptic dysfunction in Motor Neuron Disease (MND/ALS) using rodent and human iPSC-based models with Dr Gareth Miles at St Andrews University.

Azita Kouchmeshky is working on the project Retinoic acid receptors as new targets for neuromuscular disease with Prof Peter McCaffery at the University of Aberdeen

Robert Shaw is working on the project Imaging myelination/remyelination processes with Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and a selective sphingosine-1-phosphate-5 (S1P5) radiotracer with Dr Adriana Tavares at the University of Edinburgh

Owen Kantelberg is working on the project Single-molecule detection of the cytotoxic species in MND with Dr Mathew Horrocks at the University of Edinburgh

2017 Entry Studentships Awarded

The following students joined the SPRINT-MND/MS programme in September 2017:

Colin Crawford is working on the project Virally-induced perturbation of the oligodendroglial-axonal unit as an approach to understand the pathogenesis of axonal injury in MND and MS with Dr Julia  Edgar and Prof Mike Ferguson at the University of Glasgow

Gabrielle King is working on the project How do science and society shape each other? An analysis of the choreography and consequences of engagements between research and advocacy in the case of MND with Dr Martyn Pickersgill, Prof Cathy Abbott & Prof Sarah Cunningham-Burley at the University of Edinburgh

Veronica Pravata is working on the project Targeting O-GlcNAcylation in motor neurone disease with Prof Daan van Aalten, Prof Peter Brophy at the University of Dundee

Elizabeth York is working on the project Magnetisation transfer imaging biomarkers of demyelination and remyelination in MS with Prof Adam Waldman and Dr Peter Connick at the University of Edinburgh