PhD Studentship Available for September 2013 Translational Neuroimaging in Mental Health



Project Title:

Investigation of abnormalities of glutamatergic neurotransmission and cortical function in schizophrenia using MR Spectroscopy at ultrahigh field and Magnetoencephalography

John Grace QC PhD Scholarship fully funded for four years by Mental Health Research UK and the Schizophrenia Research Fund

Supervisors: Prof Peter Liddle (Psychiatry) and Prof Peter Morris (Physics and Astronomy)

Schizophrenia is characterized by widespread but subtle abnormalities of brain function, leading to disabling cognitive impairments. Recent evidence demonstrates abnormality of the neurotransmitter glutamate. One of the most promising approaches to development of more effective treatment is the use of medication and/or psychological strategies that modulate glutamatergic function, as this has the potential to improve communication in the large scale cortical networks that serve human cognition, abnormalities of which may underlie the cognitive impairments of schizophrenia. Glutamatergic function can be measured non-invasively in humans using Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS). MRS at ultrahigh field (7T) allows separate measurement of the metabolites glutamate and glutamine, in addition to the inhibitory transmitter, GABA. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) allows mapping of the event-related evolution of cortical activity on the millisecond timescale. The student will join a team of clinicians and physicists led by Prof Peter Liddle and Prof Peter Morris investigating the pharmacological, spatial and temporal aspects of brain activity in patients and healthy controls during cognitive tasks.

The Translational Neuroimaging in Mental Health program is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between mental health researchers in the Institute of Mental Health and physicists in the Sir Peter Mansfield Magnetic Resonance Centre (SPMMRC) together with researchers from other Schools, employing the world leading imaging resource of the SPMMRC to investigate mental disorders. Applications from students with (or expecting) a Master’s degree in a neuroimaging, cognitive psychology or other aspects of neuroscience are encouraged.

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Eligibility requirements for candidates:

  • Students must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, and/or a Master’s degree, or equivalent qualification, in Psychology, Neuroimaging, Physics, Neuroscience or a related discipline.
  • Students may not be eligible for the award if they do not meet UK residency requirements.
  • Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service clearance will required before commencement.
  • The studentship is for full-time study (funded for a duration of four years) and covers tuition fees (at UK student rates), and a stipend.

Candidates should provide:

  • CV including full details of performance on all completed courses.
  • Names and contact details of two academic referees
  • A research statement (up to 2 pages) that briefly outlines the current state of relevant knowledge, hypotheses that could be addressed, and an outline of potential methods.

For further information or to apply for this PhD project further, please contact Prof Peter Liddle or Prof Peter Morris ([email protected]) Applications should be sent via email to Prof Peter Liddle by clicking ‘Apply’ below.

Please quote ref. MED/1197.

Closing date: 19 June 2013 at 5.00 pm

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