Skip to main content

How protective signals from the gut modify neuronal activity and behaviour, using C. elegans as a model system.


Coronavirus information for applicants and offer holders

We hope that by the time you’re ready to start your studies with us the situation with COVID-19 will have eased. However, please be aware, we will continue to review our courses and other elements of the student experience in response to COVID-19 and we may need to adapt our provision to ensure students remain safe. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, regularly visit our website, which we will continue to update as the situation changes

Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Project start date
Thursday 1 October 2020
Country eligibility
UK and EU
Competition funded
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Professor Netta Cohen and Dr Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle
School of Molecular and Cellular Biology
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Amyloid protein misfolding leading to loss of neuronal function are fundamental pathogenic mechanisms of numerous age-associated neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer&amp;rsquo;s (AD). A fascinating fundamental challenge is to understand how signals from peripheral organs, such as the gastrointestinal tract, can influence the progression of amyloid protein misfolding in the nervous system. Work in the van Oosten-Hawle lab found that activation of transcellular stress responses in the C. elegans gut can protect against amyloid protein aggregation and toxicity in neuronal cells. It is however currently not known which neuronal microcircuit responds to these protective signals from the intestine by an altered signalling activity and how this modifies neuronal behaviour that could exacerbate organismal protection. This project combines molecular biology, behavioural studies, data analytics and computational modelling to identify 1) neuronal subtypes affected first by amyloid proteins (a-syn, amyloid beta, tau) as a function of age; 2) how neuronal signalling activity is protected by stress responses induced in the gut and 3) how this correlates with behavioural changes by measuring subtle differences in worm locomotion using artificial intelligence approaches. The work will provide exciting new insight into protective mechanisms initiated from the gut that can prevent loss of neuronal function.

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is INSERT PROJECT TITLE HERE as well as&nbsp;NAME OF SUPERVISOR AS LINK TO PROFILE&nbsp;as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p><a href=""></a>&nbsp;DEADLINE 01/04/20</p> <p><a href=""></a>&nbsp;DEADLINE 01/06/20</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information please contact the Graduate School Office<br /> e: fbsgrad<a href=""></a>, t: +44 (0)113 343 8186.</p>