Wellcome Trust 4 year PhD Programme - Systems Neuroscience: From Networks to Behaviour

Why study Neuroscience at Newcastle University?

The Institute of Neuroscience is one of Newcastle University's flagship research institutes. It integrates more than 100 principal investigators across disciplines and provides a rich, dynamic environment for postgraduate students, where they may develop critical research skills and gain a broad range of neuroscientific knowledge. Research in the Institute extends across many different species (invertebrate, avian, rodent, non-human primate, human) using many different techniques, often in combination. A vital feature of the Institute is the collaborative synergy between basic and clinical neuroscientists. In addition, new techniques are being pioneered via collaborations between computational scientists, nanotechnologists and life scientists (eg non-invasive monitoring of deep brain structures, biochemical sensor arrays, carbon fibre electrodes, and novel MRI techniques involving phase measurements).

Recent Institute of Neuroscience activity relevant to this application are:

(i) the award of £4.5M from the EPSRC to coordinate the construction of an e-science infrastructure for the storage, sharing, and analysis of neuroscience data, CARMEN (Code Analysis, Repository and Modelling for e-Neuroscience); and

(ii) an EPSRC-funded Spike Train Analysis Workshop and Network which has seeded international collaboration between neuroscientists interested in large-scale data analysis (http://www.spiketrain.org/).

Members of the Institute hold research grants from the EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC, and Wellcome Trust, as well as from other charities and the commercial sector, currently totaling more than £49 M, and are actively involved in knowledge transfer with industry, involving Nissan, Volvo, Lectus Therapeutics, Neuralynx, Cybula, Astra Zeneca, and GlaxoSmithKline, amongst others.

What is special about this programme?

Our four-year PhD programme is tailored specifically for students with outstanding backgrounds in physical sciences, engineering, mathematics or computing. Students will be trained for productive careers in neuroscience through a combination of intensive taught coursework and laboratory rotations in the first year, during which hands-on experience with experimental data collection will be the key aspect, followed by PhD research projects in the final three years, which will enable students to apply their previously acquired quantitative, technical and scientific skills to challenging questions in neuroscience.

We will offer training and research in three broad areas.

  1. In vivo, in vitro, and clinical neurophysiology: Opportunities will include cellular neurophysiology in non-human primates and small animals as well as human electrophysiology, with integrating links between the two, and the development of novel devices for recording from and stimulating neurons.
  2. Neuroimaging: Topics include the integration of methodology and knowledge across species and the development of novel techniques through close collaboration with MR physicists and chemists.
  3. Computational neuroscience: Particular emphasis will be placed on the development of data-driven models, novel techniques for data and network analysis, and the use of grid and e-science approaches for data processing.

The development of novel techniques (practical or analytical) plays an important role in all of these areas and many projects will combine experiments and modelling of brain activity at different levels.

Student progress

On entry each student will be paired with a Personal Mentor from the supervisor pool, who will assess the student’s individual training needs based on his/her undergraduate background and known research field(s) of interest. It will be the job of the Personal Mentor to design the most appropriate taught curriculum for each student (as above) and to provide a direct link to ongoing research from day one. Each student will also be paired with a Student Mentor from the second-year cohort of the Programme.

How to apply:

Applications are now being accepted for our 2014/15 programme.

Find out how to apply.

If you would like more information about the programme please contact Helen Stewart, Postgraduate Secretary, by e-mail on ion-postgrad-enq@ncl.ac.uk.