PhD Studentship in Neuropharmacology

Project title: Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the anti-epileptic effects of non-psychoactive cannabinoids

Supervisors: Dr Ben Whalley & Dr Alistair Nunn

Project Overview:   The pharmacological effects of many components of cannabis are not mediated by the mammalian endocannabinoid system and lack the psychoactive effects of endocannabinoid system modulators. However, during the last decade, we have demonstrated that some of these plant cannabinoids, most notably cannabidiol and cannabidivarin (CBD & CBDV), exert significant anticonvulsant and antiepileptic effects in preclinical models. Whilst our findings support ongoing and planned human adult and paediatric clinical trials in people with epilepsy, the mechanism(s) by which these compounds exert their beneficial effects remains unknown.

The successful applicant will employ network level (multi-electrode array) and single cell electrophysiological recording methods with multi-photon microscopy in a number of acute slice preparations from relevant models of disease to elucidate the underlying mechanism of CBDV and CBD’s antiepileptic actions. This project will be informed by ongoing clinical findings via an industrial supervisor who has an established and successful relationship with both academic supervisors. Furthermore, the project forms part of a wider preclinical investigation and so the successful applicant will form part of, and be supported by, a wider research team based at University of Reading and other academic sites. Both academic supervisors and industrial sponsors are committed to the publication of the project’s findings, as our previous track record attests. All equipment, expertise and facilities necessary for the conduct of the project have been fully funded or are already in place. Appropriate training will be given as necessary.

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  • Applicants should hold or expect to gain a minimum of a 2:1 Bachelors Degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a relevant Masters degree and/or specific research experience of relevance to the project (e.g. electrophysiology, microscopy, models of epilepsy) will be welcomed.
  • Due to restrictions on the funding this studentship is only open to candidates from the UK/EU.

Funding Details:   

This studentship is fully funded by a long standing industrial partner, GW Pharmaceuticals. All costs including registration, bench fees, full stipend £13,726 p.a. and project running costs will be provided. This funding is provided for 3 years.

How to apply:   

To apply for this studentship please submit an application for a PhD in Neuropharmacology via the ‘Apply’ button below. 

*Important note* Please quote the reference ‘GS14-14 ‘ in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding Section of your on-line application.

Application Deadline:  15th January 2014

Further Enquiries:
Please note that, where a candidate is successful in being awarded funding, this will be confirmed via a formal studentship award letter; this will be provided separately from any Offer of Admission and will be subject to standard checks for eligibility and other criteria. 

For further details please contact: Dr Ben Whalley (; 0118 378 4745) or Dr Alistair Nunn (

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