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PhD Studentship – Enhancing integrin-mediated nervous system regeneration

School of Biological Sciences

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Thursday 27 June 2019
Reference:  1146119BJ

PhD Supervisor: Melissa R. Andrews      Co-Supervisor: David A. Tumbarello        

Application Deadline: 27 June 2019 

Interviews will be held in mid-July 2019

PhD Description:  


Attempts to regenerate damaged axons, while promising, only result in modest levels of regenerative growth.  Several therapies target the injury environment however it is also necessary to optimise the intrinsic growth machinery of damaged neurons. Overexpression and activation of integrin receptors has recently been found to significantly enhance axon regeneration following injury.The use of gene therapy to replace missing proteins however has resulted in limited amounts of regeneration, with recent data showing that re-expressed proteins may be excluded from damaged axons.It is therefore necessary to examine alternative approaches to re-express necessary proteins in injured neurons and axons in order to maximise growth and repair following injury.  

Project Aims:

Utilising small-membrane-bound microvesicles known as exosomes presents a novel method for delivering necessary proteins to injured neurons within the CNS. This studentship project will involve developing novel therapies and/or improving upon existing treatments including the potential for using loaded exosomes to enhance outgrowth and regeneration. The project will involve evaluation of neurite outgrowth and survival with further studies seeking to enhance regenerative growth in an in vivo model of neuronal injury.

Skills and Environment:

This project lies within neuroscience with a focus in cell biology and neuroregeneration.The PhD candidate will be trained in a range of techniques including cell biology, molecular biology, immunohistochemistry, microscopy (epifluorescent and confocal). He/she will take a prominent role in developing methods to assess exosome loading in primary cultures along with exosome-induced neurite outgrowth and axon regeneration. Alongside laboratory skills, the PhD candidate will gain experience in presentation skills, article writing for publication, as well as a number of postgraduate courses offered in Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton.  

Applicants should be enthusiastic and have a strong interest in cell biology, molecular biology, microscopy and should be keen to use experimental approaches to understand the fundamentals of neuroregeneration. Having skills in image analysis and experimental design are highly desirable.

The project is funded for 3 years and welcomes applicants from the UK and EU who have or expect to obtain at least an upper second class degree in Biological Sciences or allied subjects. Funding will cover fees and a stipend at current research council rates of £15,009 per annum for 2019/20. Subject to rise for 2020/21.

Due to funding restrictions this position is only open to UK/EU applicants.

Applications for an MPhil/PhD in Biological Sciences should be submitted online at:  

General enquiries should be made Dr. Melissa Andrews at  Any queries on the application process should be made to

Applications will be considered in the order that they are received, and the position will be considered filled when a suitable candidate has been identified.

The University of Southampton and the School of Biological Sciences both hold an Athena Swan Silver Award, demonstrating their commitment to provide equal opportunities and to advance the representation of women in STEM/M subjects: science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.   Due consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a career break.  University benefits include onsite childcare facilities, state-of-the-art on-campus sports, arts and culture facilities, a full programme of events and a range of staff discounts.

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