Fully Funded Studentship Regulation of stem cells in the adult hypothalamus by fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signalling (HAJIHOSSEINI_U14DTP)

School of Biological Sciences (UEA)

29 November 2013. Available 1 October 2014. 

Professor Mohammad K.Hajihosseini

The Project:

Our recent studies show that new neurons are generated in the adult hypothalamus by a population of neural stem cells called tanycytes. It transpires that the newly-generated neurons are destined for, and become integrated into, the brain circuits that regulate appetite and energy expenditure. However, we know very little about genes and cellular mechanisms that regulate tanycyte biology and/or the process of hypothalamic neurogenesis. A better understanding of these factors could help devise ways of modulating appetite/energy expenditure, with a view to tackle prevalent eating disorders such as obesity and age-related anorexia.

In this work, we will investigate the role of an important family of signaling molecules termed Fibroblast Growth Factors (FGFs) in the above processes. FGFs signal through FGF-receptors and using Rt-PCR we have identified which members of this signaling system are present in the adult hypothalamus. Here, we will use in-situ hybridization and immunolabelling to determine their precise localization i.e. whether they are expressed by tanycytes themselves and/or their progeny. We will then test the functional importance of the FGF/FGFRs gene set by deleting or over-expressing them specifically in tanycytes or their descendants in vivo, using a unique set of transgenic mice.

Histological analysis of the brains of these mice will tell us whether the genes are important for survival, division or differentiation of tanycytes or their daughter cells. We will also test the impact of these gene manipulations on growth of tanycytes and their ability to generate neurons in vitro. Combined, these studies will reveal the exact role of FGFs in a newly-discovered stem cell niche in the adult brain. In addition to an excellent set of transferrable skills, this project will train an enthusiastic candidate in a host of cellular and molecular techniques to prepare him/her for a career in neuroscience and stem cell research.

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Entry Requirements:

2:1 or 2:2 plus Masters. English Language – IELTS 6.5 overall with 6 in each category.


Due to funding restrictions PhD studentships funding from BBSRC is available to successful candidates who meet the UK Research Council eligibility criteria including the 3-year UK residency requirements. These requirements are detailed in the BBSRC eligibility guidelines:

http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/web/FILES/Guidelines/studentship_eligibility.pdf. All candidates should check their eligibility for funding.

The current stipend for 2013/14 is £13,726 per annum.

Making Your Application:

For further information and to apply, please visit the ‘How to Apply’ page on our website by clicking Apply.

Additional Information:

In keeping with the postgraduate training policy of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) all students recruited onto this programme will be required to undertake a three months internship during the second or third year of their study. The internship will offer exciting and invaluable experience of work in an area outside of research, and full support and advice will be provided by a professional team from the UEA.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) – a collaboration between the Norwich Biosciences Institutes and the University of East Anglia.  Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the Studentship Competition.  The interview dates will be the 14th and 15th January 2014.

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