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Wellcome Trust conference The Challenges of Chronic Pain

11-13 March 2015
Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK

Abstract deadline: 30 January 2015
Registration deadline: 16 February 2015

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Ph.D. Positions
Page: 01. 02. 03.
Structure of the 4 year PhD programme in pain research
The first year
The four year programme provides a broad research training in pain neuroscience, and allows students to make a more informed choice of supervisor and project. This is achieved by having an initial training year in which the students attend some specialized courses, journal clubs and workshops and do three brief (3 month) research projects in different labs in the Pain consortium. These 'rotation' projects will be organised such that students gain experience in at least two of the following broad categories of pain research:- molecular, cellular, developmental and systems (including human). By working in different labs, the students will have the opportunity to acquire a broader range of experimental and theoretical techniques, and to work with supervisors with whom they may wish to do research for the PhD.

Student progress during the first year is assessed by:
(i) a write-up and 10 minute oral presentation on each lab placement
(ii) their placement supervisor's assessment of their work
(iii) their contribution to journal clubs they attend
(iv) the writing of a research plan outlining their proposed PhD project for the subsequent 3 years.

Examples of typical rotation projects undertaken in previous years

The 3 PhD years
After their first year, students will choose to work with one primary supervisor doing research for the PhD (this might be in one of the labs they worked in during the first year, or a different lab). However all PhD projects involve a collaboration between at least two laboratories (of which at least one will be a Consortium member) so the student will continue to gain experience in a number of experimental approaches to a research question. During the PhD students will be encouraged to attend advanced training courses and research meetings in the UK and overseas. Specimen PhD projects

Pastoral care
Throughout the 4 years, the student's progress will be monitored and assessed by members of the Consortium responsible for the training provided. Professor Tony Dickenson provides informal advice and help at any time. Students will be integrated into the community of pain researchers within the Consortium by participation in journal clubs and social events (many of which are arranged by the students and postdocs themselves). Career advice will be given in the last year to prepare the student for their post doctoral career.

1. Can foreign students apply? Yes, foreign students have been accepted into the programme. They receive the normal stipend, research and travel costs, and the EC component of their fees is paid, but non-European Community citizens have to pay the extra non-EC fees themselves (currently roughly £15,000 per year). Furthermore, all candidates who are selected for the Programme must be interviewed, and we unfortunately have no funds to pay for foreign students to come to interview.

2. I have a lower second degree but I am now doing an MSc. Is this equivalent to an upper second? You can apply, but in the previous year's applications nobody with such a background was successful.

3. I?m doing an undergraduate degree in physics or chemistry or engineering or psychology - can I use the first year to convert to Pain research? Yes.

4. Does my age matter? No.

5. I have another PhD offer, which needs a decision before you decide on your studentships. Ask them to wait (they usually will); if not, contact us.

6. Can I come to visit the programme before the interviews? We only conduct visits for students at the time of the interviews, when shortlisted applicants will meet supervisors and students on the programme and visit labs.

7. I have my own money to fund the fees and living expenses of my PhD. Can I be admitted to the programme? Here are the guidelines for such a situation. Students, other than the 4 funded each year by the Wellcome Trust, may be admitted to the 4 year PhD Programme in Neuroscience, provided the following conditions are met.

a. Students must meet the necessary academic standard. Assessment of this will always involve interview by the 4 year Programme Committee, preferably at the same time as other applicants for the Wellcome-funded places are considered (February each year). If students are not ranked within the top 10 of all the applicants (last year there were 200 applicants), they will not be accepted onto the Programme. Since entry onto the Programme is highly competitive, we recommend that applications are made only from students who have obtained, or are likely to obtain, a 1st or upper 2nd class degree in their undergraduate studies. No funds are available to fly foreign applicants to attend the interview.

b. Students cannot be accepted if their funding ties them to a particular supervisor for the PhD part of the course. Final allocation of students to 3-month-rotation and PhD supervisors will be made by the 4 year Programme Committee in consultation with the student and the supervisor that they wish to work with. Students must do all the coursework that the Programme Committee suggests.

c. The financial obligations of being on the 4 year Programme are as follows. For 4 years, funds are needed to pay: fees (~£3,500/year for European Community citizens); living expenses to the student (the Wellcome Trust currently pay approximately £20,000/year); research expenses (£10,000/year)and costs of travelling to scientific meetings (£400/year). The total needed for the 4 years is thus around £140,500 for an EC student and more for a non-EC student, due to the extra non-EC fees. The research and travel expenses part of this funding will be administered by the 4 year Programme Committee in conjunction with the supervisors that the students are allocated to.

How to apply?
We currently do not have any PhD studentships available.

Please send:

* a CV detailing education and relevant work experience
* a statement of why you want to study this PhD programme and why you are suitable (approximately 500 words)
* Two referee letters of support -it is the applicants responsibility that 2 referee support letters are provided

to vivien.cheah@kcl.ac.uk

Examples for typical rotation projects undertaken in previous years
Rotation 1
McMahon: Acid-induced pain and its modulation in humans
Hunt: Morphine tolerance in the NK1 knockout mouse
Wood: Construction of a loxP vector to be used in sodium channel beta3 subunit knock out
Wood: DRG cell phenotype and numbers in the conditional BDNF knockout
Koltzenburg: Excitability testing of peripheral nerves in vitro
McMahon: Characterisation of analgesic efficacy in a model of UVB-induced inflammation of the skin

Rotation 2
Rice: Behavioural models of gp120-associated pain
McMahon: Spinal cord mRNA expression levels and patterns following intrathecal NGF
Dickenson: Investigating the role of the NMDA receptor in lamina I neurones under neuropathy
Fitzgerald: Whole cell patch recording of identified lamina I cells in neonatal rat spinal cord slices
Dickenson: Long term potentiation in the dorsal horn
Orengo: Microarray analysis of spinal cord genes following a spared nerve injury

Rotation 3

Fitzgerald: Expression of Eph-A receptors in Neonatal DRG
Orengo: Microarray gene analysis of rat DRG in the spinal nerve ligation model of neuropathic pain
Koltzenburg: Assessment of amplifying RNA for microarray expression profiling
McMahon: Human psychophysical testing of UV burns
Hunt: Gene chip analysis of dorsal horn LTP
Dickenson: Cancer-induced bone pain; an in vivo electrophysiology study

Structure of the First Year of the 4 Year PhD

The first year has 3 main components, compulsory courses, optional courses and (occupying most of the time) three 3 month laboratory placements spent doing research and learning techniques.

Compulsory Courses

These consist of:

An Induction course introducing you to the College
A course on Current Techniques in Neuroscience
A Topics in Neuroscience course, structured like a journal club in which you present research papers
A Statistics course
A course on Library and Database Usage
An Electronics course
A course on the Ethics of Animal Experimentation
A Science Communication course (may also be taken in the 2nd year)

Optional Courses
These consist of:

Computing Courses on E-mail, Word Processing, Internet, Spreadsheets, Powerpoint, Visual Basic, and more advanced programming
A Mechanical Workshop course
A Further Statistics course
A Radiation Safety course
Orientation for Foreigners
English for Foreigners

The Laboratory Placements

Three of these are done, chosen from labs working in the broad areas of Molecular Neuroscience, Cellular Neuroscience, and Systems and Imaging Neuroscience. Students must choose 3 placements covering at least 2 of these broad areas (in order to avoid over-specialization in the first year). For example, students might do a placement in one lab which they think they might want to do their PhD research in, one in a similar lab for comparison, and one in a lab studying something quite different to gain experience in another area. Students doing these placements often publish papers on their work, or present it at scientific meetings.