PhD Studentship, Cancer Sciences
Location: Southampton General Hospital
Closing Date: Wednesday 12 January 2022
Therapeutic targeting of FcgRIIb to inhibit alpha-synuclein toxicity and propagation through the brain
Lead Institute / Faculty: University of Southampton, Medicine
Main Supervisor: Dr Ali Roghanian
Other members of the supervisory team: Prof Jessica Teeling
Duration of the award: 36 months (full-time)
People with Parkinson’s disease (PD) have aggregates of misfolded alpha-synuclein (aSN) in their brains which are believed to kill brain cells (neurons). As PD progresses, these clumps of aSN spread through the brain, causing damage to neurons, and eventually clinical symptoms. The underlying mechanism by which neurons take up misfolded aSN is not fully understood and may require a specific receptor. One of these receptors is believed to be the inhibitory FcgRIIb. To study the underlying mechanisms by which misfolded aSN spreads through the brain, we will use neuronal cultures that form a mini-network. To investigate the role of FcgRIIb in aSN spreading, we will use specific FcgRIIb blocking antibodies, which will be further engineered for optimised function. Alongside these in-vitro models, we will use an experimental in-vivo model of PD to study the spread of aSN across the brain. Brain tissues will be analysed for neuropathology and inflammation and correlated to behavioural changes. The role of FcgRIIb will be tested in mice lacking functional FcgRIIb and by administering blocking antibodies. The results of this PhD project can lead to further understanding of the biological pathways that cause neuronal damage in PD and pave the way to a novel type of immunotherapy that prevents or halts this devastating disease.
Person Specification: See below
This PhD studentship is a collaborative project at The University of Southampton, combining immunology, neuroscience, antibody biology/engineering and biochemistry. We are looking for a highly motivated candidate who will benefit from training in a range of molecular, cellular, biochemical, in vitro and in vivo techniques. Previous experience in these areas is desirable. The project, to commence in April 2022 (or soon after), is funded for 3 years (full time) and welcomes applicants from the UK (confirmed Home Student status) who have or expect to obtain at least an upper second class degree in Biological Sciences or allied subjects. The core of the funding is provided by Wessex Medical Research and will cover fees and a stipend at a research council rate.
The successful candidate is likely to have the following qualifications:
- A 1st or 2:1 degree in a relevant discipline and/or second degree with a related Masters
Wessex Medical Research. Due to funding restrictions this position is only open to UK applicants.
Administrative contact and how to apply:
Please complete the University's online application form, which you can find at
You should enter Dr Ali Roghanian as your proposed supervisor. To support your application provide an academic CV (including contact details of two referees), official academic transcripts and a personal statement (outlining your suitability for the studentship, what you hope to achieve from the PhD and your research experience to date).
Closing date: 12 January 2022
Interview date: 28 January 2022