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PhD Basic & Clinical Neuroscience

 Course Level
PhD
 Type
Full Time

 Duration
3 Years
 Start month
February

 Tuition fee

International
20000 GBP
National
5460 GBP
EU
5460 GBP

Application fee

International 0 GBP
National 0 GBP
Department
Department of Neuroscience
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)6.5
TOEFL-IBT (min)92
27

World University Ranking

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About this course

Our research explores the cellular and molecular basis of neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Batten Disease, motor neuron disease, schizophrenia, depression and autism spectrum disorder. Within this brief, we focus on using stem cells and patent specific induced pluripotent stem cells and use these as models to unravel transcriptional, epigenetic and signalling regulatory mechanisms responsible for formation and maintenance of neurons and astrocytes and also as transplantation tools to restore function lost in neurodegeneration and stroke. We use fly and rodent models to investigate the molecular basis of learning and memory.

In addition, human brain tissue, cell and animal models are used to identify genes, proteins and signalling pathways implicated in the development of motor neuron disease, Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, with a view to developing novel disease-modifying therapies for the treatment of these diseases.

Check further details on University website

Eligibility Criteria

English language requirement:

  • IELTS: 6.5
  • TOEFL-IBT: 92

Check further details on University website

Course Modules

Description

The Department comprises five Professors, two Readers, four Senior Lecturers, six Lecturers and one Research Fellow and is headed by Professor Noel Buckley. Our work is supported by many talented post-doctoral research scientists and PhD students.

Within the Department, laboratory-based research employs state-of-the-art molecular and cell biology approaches, including genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, epigenomics, stem cell biology, advanced histology and cell imaging including live-cell video microscopy and confocal microscopy, electrophysiology and behavioural studies. All of these techniques are honed toward unravelling molecular and cellular dysfunction in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Diseases and Motor Neuron Disease and psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder and depression as well as understanding the underlying pathways regulating neural stem cell development.

Our principal achievements have centred around (1) derivation, characterisation and application of neural stem cells and (2) understanding genetic and molecular mechanisms that underlie neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. We have shown that proneural factors drive multiple stages of neuronal differentiation and the promotion of neural progenitor cell proliferation, and have uncovered genetic and epigenetic pathways regulating neural stem cell renewal in model organisms such as fly and mouse and used transplantation studies to examine efficacy of neural stem cells in animal models of stroke and Huntington’s Disease (HD). Notably, this has led to the first association between in vivo MRI-based anatomical measurements and their prediction of behavioural improvements in stroke. Further, we have pioneered the use of human neural stem cells for treatment of stroke and have produced the first clinical grade human neural stem cell lines, currently entering clinical trials for stroke. Another trailblazer is the first clinical trial of human neural stem cells in a neurodegenerative disorder (Batten Disease). Further efforts are aimed at understanding the mechanisms by which diet modulates adult hippocampal neurogenesis and the subsequent impact on mental health. Other breakthroughs include the demonstration that genetic risk variants for schizophrenia operate during foetal brain development, and that similar impairments of synaptic signalling may underlie both early Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and schizophrenia (SZ), providing a novel linkage between seemingly disparate disorders.

Further progress continues to be made into fundamental genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. We have identified signalling pathways controlled by autism-associated gene variants that are critical for maintaining neuron structure, and have developed Drosophila models of motor neuron disease and used these to determine the effect of ALS-associated gene mutations. Investigations into the molecular basis of neurodegeneration have revealed novel functions for the microtubule-associated protein tau that may underlie the spread of tau pathology in tauopathy brain, identified interactions between astrocytes and neurons that are dysregulated in neurodegenerative diseases including AD and Batten disease, and shown that ALS-causing gene mutations disrupt mitochondria-ER associations to cause dysregulation of intracellular calcium and cell energy provision.

HD is also in our sights, and we have carried out the first whole-genome study of aberrant transcription factor binding in HD brain and examined the therapeutic potential of neural stem cell transplantation in animal models of HD.

The Department of Neuroscience is involved in several collaborations across the globe, with collaborators in the USA (Colombia University, Washington University, Penn University, UCLA, UCSD), Australia (Lincoln University, University of Sydney), Europe (Universities of Milan, Rome, Naples, Helsinki, Freiburg) and Asia (The Genome Institute of Singapore). We also collaborate within several UK Centres, including Universities of Oxford,Cambridge, Nottingham, and also with ReNeuron, aUK biotech company focusing on stem-cell therapy.

The Department participates in a BSc (Intercalated) in Neuroscience and Neuropsychology and also runs a taught MSc course in Neuroscience. This master's degree is offered as a one-year full-time programme or a two-year part-time programme. It provides specialised pathways in Behavioural Genetics, Addiction Biology, Developmental Neurobiology, Neurodegeneration, Neuroimaging, Function Neuroimaging and Tractography and Cognitive Neuroscience. For further details about the MSc Neuroscience, please refer to the MSc prospectus entry. 

For further details about the Department of Neuroscience, please visit the departmental web pages.

Course study environment

Graduate research students work closely with their supervisors and enjoy regular meetings to discuss their progress. They also liaise with other members of staff with relevant research interests and are encouraged to attend and participate in departmental research presentations and other Institute seminars. There is a full induction for new graduate students on commencing their studies. Each full-time graduate research student is allocated their own workspace and computer; facilities for part-time students can be arranged according to their needs.

Postgraduate training

Training courses run by the department, the Institute or through the Graduate School will provide training in a wide variety of topics, from transferable skills to academic areas directly relevant to the student's thesis.

Head of group/division

Professor Noel Buckley

Contact for information

Samantha Aylward, tel +44 (0)20 7848 0259.

Contact email

[email protected]

Course website

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/iop/depts/neuroscience/index.aspx

 

Check further details on University website

How to Apply

Application procedure

PhD opportunities within the Department of Neuroscience are advertised on the following webpage:

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/iop/depts/neuroscience/study/pgresearch/currentopps.aspx

Details of the application process for individual PhD opportunities are provided in each advertisement.

If you are not applying for a funded studentship you must identify a suitable supervisor within the department: for a searchable list of available supervisors, please see the departmental webpages. You will then need to complete an online application and provide two references, as well as a letter of support from your prospective supervisor. For further information, please contact the department of Neuroscience admissions tutor, Wendy Noble ([email protected]).

Successful applicants will be required to obtain approval for their research project prior to registration. The relevant form can be downloaded here. Forms should be completed in collaboration with your prospective supervisor. For information on application and project approval procedures, please contact [email protected]

Please note that you will be expected to have a certificate showing that you meet the KCL English language requirements BEFORE you apply for a studentship. Further details on the English language requirements can be found here. 

Personal statement and supporting information

Please provide a supporting statement with your application, outlining your previous academic record and your reasons for applying to this PhD programme.

Course intake

Not limited.

Application closing date

The deadline for applications is detailed below for 2016 entry. Prior to these dates all applications will be given equal consideration and considered on their individual merits. After these dates applications will be considered subject to the availability of places, thus we encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible. Please note that funding deadlines may be earlier.

June 2016 entry - Application Deadline 01 March 2016

October 2016 entry - Application Deadline 23 May 2016

February 2017 entry - Application Deadline 01 November 2016

Check further details on University website

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