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You can find some of our current DPhil projects advertised below.

We play a leading role in the development of more efficient and cost-effective sequencing technologies © Male Drosophila accessory gland - Clive Wilson

CURRENT STUDENTSHIPS

NEUROSCIENCE

Investigating metabolic control and sleep during photoperiod-induced torpor in Djungarian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus)

Prof V Vyazovskiy, Prof Stuart Peirson, Prof David Ray in collaboration with Novo Nordisk

Application Deadline: Friday 22 January 2021

This project is in collaboration between Oxford University and Novo Nordisk and funded by Oxford Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP. It will investigate metabolic and neurophysiological mechanisms of torpor in Siberian hamsters.

Torpor is a unique adaptation to harsh environmental conditions, characterised by a profound attenuation of physiological functions, wherein body temperature can drop to within a few degrees of ambient temperature. The expression of torpor is a strictly regulated process, and one that is readily reversible and without lasting consequences to the animal. Torpor can occur as a result of the metabolic challenge of limited food availability (fasting-induced daily torpor), but many species also enter torpor in anticipation of predictable seasonal changes in food availability and ambient temperature. In such cases, the primary environmental cue which triggers torpor is the change in day length (short photoperiod-induced or seasonal torpor). Whilst laboratory mice do not show seasonal physiology, Djungarian (Siberian) hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) reliably enter both short photoperiod-induced torpor, and also have the capacity for fasting-induced torpor.

The project will commence in October 2021 and will be based within DPAG. Informal enquiries may be made to Prof Vladyslav Vyazovskiy at vladyslav.vyazovskiy@dpag.ox.ac.uk.

Recent Archived Studentships

CELL PHYSIOLOGY

Elucidating the Molecular Machinery of Intracellular Insulin Handling

Prof Robin Klemm, Dr Max Ruby

Insulin is secreted from pancreatic β-cells in response to alterations in blood glucose levels. Insulin binding to its receptor triggers a cascade of phosphorylation events to regulate metabolism and growth by influencing enzyme activity and gene transcription. Additionally insulin may induce receptor internalization, particularly in hepatocytes which clear the majority of insulin, and the insulin receptor complex can continue to signal in the early endosome. The insulin receptor has also shown to bind DNA in the nucleus to directly influence gene expression. Thus insulin stimulated signalling may take place at the plasma membrane, within endosomes or in the nucleus. The factors regulating the uptake and intracellular fate of insulin are incompletely understood.

 

Novel interactions of anaesthetics on oxygen sensitive TASK K+ channels derived from rat chemoreceptor cells

Prof K Buckler, Prof J Pandit

Fully funded 3-year National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia (NIAA) PhD studentship to investigate the novel interactions of anaesthetics on oxygen sensitive TASK K+ channels derived from rat chemoreceptor cells (carotid body).

 

Structure and function of key ABC Transporters in health and disease

Prof L Carpenter, A/Prof de Wet

Human ABC transporters are a family 52 integral membrane proteins that transport diverse molecules across cell membranes. Mutations in ABC transporters causes a range of diseases, including diabetes (ABCC8 and ABCC9), cystic fibrosis (ABCC7, CFTR) and blindness (ABCA4).

Development & cell biology

Defining the interplay between polycystin 1/2 signalling and cAMP signalling in different subcellular domains

Prof M Zaccolo

Primary cilia are ubiquitous organelles fundamental for vision, hearing, smell perception, breathing, excretion, reproduction and development and their disruption or loss leads to several diseases (ciliopathies).

metabolism & endocrinology

Elucidating the Molecular Machinery of Intracellular Insulin Handling

Prof Robin Klemm, Dr Max Ruby

Insulin is secreted from pancreatic β-cells in response to alterations in blood glucose levels. Insulin binding to its receptor triggers a cascade of phosphorylation events to regulate metabolism and growth by influencing enzyme activity and gene transcription. Additionally insulin may induce receptor internalization, particularly in hepatocytes which clear the majority of insulin, and the insulin receptor complex can continue to signal in the early endosome. The insulin receptor has also shown to bind DNA in the nucleus to directly influence gene expression. Thus insulin stimulated signalling may take place at the plasma membrane, within endosomes or in the nucleus. The factors regulating the uptake and intracellular fate of insulin are incompletely understood.

NEUROSCIENCE

Targeting TFEB to correct autophagy/lysosomal deficits in Parkinson’s disease 

Prof Richard Wade-Martins

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder but disease-modifying therapies are still lacking. Genetics and pathology strongly implicate lysosomal and autophagy dysfunction in Parkinson’s, making TFEB, a master-regulator of lysosomal biogenesis, an attractive target as a potential therapeutic. Importantly, activation or overexpression of TFEB prevents neurodegeneration and rescues Parkinson’s related autophagy/lysosome deficits. Despite increasing interest in this target, the pathways involved in TFEB function in Parkinson’s remain poorly understood, particularly in human neurons. This project will assess the effect of Parkinson’s mutations on TFEB activity and regulation to better understand the molecular pathways of neurodegenerative diseases.

 

Investigating the adaptive capabilities of the brain following asymmetric hearing loss

Prof Andrew King, Dr Fernando Nodal

This 3 year PhD project, which is funded by Action on Hearing Loss and the Wellcome Trust, will investigate the neural basis by which the brain is able to adapt to asymmetric hearing loss and extend this work to more natural listening conditions than those typically used in the laboratory. 

 

Effects of fasting-induced torpor on sleep and behaviour in mice

Prof V Vyazovskiy, Prof D Bannerman, Dr S Peirson

This project will investigate the effects of food restriction on torpor in mice, the effects of torpor on subsequent behavioural performance and sleep, and will develop a standardized approach to detect the occurrence of torpor during food restriction.