PhD Position – lipid imaging in neuroinflammation

We have a position available for a PhD student to study the “Development of lipid imaging and lipidomics tools to explore neuroinflammation“. This is a joint project with Prof. Peter Gardner in the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science and MIB.

Deadline for applications is 26 November 2014.

More information on

Neuroinflammation underpins a number of central nervous system disorders and changes in brain lipids have been shown in many neurodegenerative disorders. Extending our understanding of the specific role of lipids in neuroinflammation and their influence in nutritional supplementation are priority research areas given the aging population.

To address this challenge, novel chemical imaging modalities are required, to study metabolic processes in healthy and diseased tissues to provide new biochemical understanding and to underpin targeted and in-vivo methods and inform new therapeutic strategies. This project will focus on mass spectrometric and vibrational spectroscopic imaging techniques, pioneered in biological applications in our labs, to study changes in the lipidome associated with the aging brain and neurological diseases. Such label-free techniques are increasingly recognised as powerful approaches in biology and biomedicine to reveal chemical localisation on the sub-cellular level.

The aim of the project will be to apply state-of-the-art chemical imaging and lipidomics technology to identify changes in lipid composition and distribution in brain samples as a function of aging, neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative disease. Success will provide a valuable tool for diagnosis, intervention and development of novel therapeutics.

This is a highly interdisciplinary project providing excellent training opportunities in the application of advance analytical technologies at the life sciences interface. In addition the student will acquire niche research and core bioscience skills as identified by BBSRC.

S.A Murphy, A Nicolaou. Lipidomics applications in health, disease and nutrition research Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013, 57;1336-46. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201200863

A O’Brien, J Fullerton, K.A Massey, G Auld, G Sewell, S James, J Newson, E Karra, A Winstanley, W Alazawi, R Garcia-Markez, J Cordoba, A Nicolaou, D.W Gilroy. Prostaglandin E2 mediates immunosuppression in accutely decompensated cirrhosis, Nature Medicine, 2014, 20; 518-523. doi:10.1038/nm.3516

M.K. Passarelli and N. Winograd, Lipid imaging with time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS).
Biochim. Biophys. Acta, 2011. 1811(11), 976-90. doi:10.1016/j.bbalip.2011.05.007

J.S. Fletcher, N.P. Lockyer, J.C. Vickerman, Developments in molecular SIMS depth profiling and 3D imaging of biological systems using polyatomic primary ions.
Mass Spectrom. Rev. 2011, 30, 142-174. doi:10.1002/mas.20275

M.J Baker et al. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy: from biological materials’ analyses towards imaging, understanding cell functionality and disease diagnosis,
Nature Protocols, 2014, 9, 1771-1791. doi:10.1038/nprot.2014.110

Funding Notes

Eligibility and Funding

Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a first or upper second class UK honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology.

The studentship is available to UK and other EU nationals (due to funding criteria imposed by the Research Council, EU nationals must have resided in the UK for three years prior to commencing the studentship) and provides funding for tuition fees and stipend, subject to eligibility. Please visit the BBSRC DTP website for full details


If you have any queries regarding the application process, projects on offer or your eligibility, please contact the DTP Recruitment Office in the first instance:

DTP Recruitment Officer: Mrs Jessica Bowler
Telephone: +44 (0)161 275 5537 or +44 (0)161 275 5608
Fax: +44 (0)161 275 5657

You may wish to contact the main supervisor directly about the project;
Dr Nicholas Lockyer:

Deadline for receipt of online application forms: Wednesday 26 November 2014, 5pm