PhD Studentship in Neuroscience - Fight Alpers’ Studentship

Postgraduate Opportunities

Newcastle University

Reference code: IN099

Closing date: open until a suitable candidate is found

Supervisors: Professor Robert McFarland and Professor Robert Taylor, Institute of Neuroscience Also Dr Nichola Lax

Sponsor: Ryan Stanford Appeal

Duration of the award: 3 years

Person Specification

Applicants should possess – or expect to gain – a degree in a relevant subject at first or 2:1 level.


Alpers’ syndrome is a progressive mitochondrial disease of young children that causes a severe epileptic encephalopathy, neurodevelopmental regression and liver failure. The underlying genetic defect involves a nuclear-encoded mitochondrial enzyme – polymerase gamma (POLG) – which is key to the replication and repair of mitochondrial DNA. Mutation of the POLG gene leads to a depletion of mitochondrial DNA, which in turn precipitates clinical disease. The aim of the studentship is to gain a greater understanding of why children with Alpers’ syndrome develop particular neurological features and to explore ways in which we might improve the treatment of this condition.

The project will involve a broad range of molecular biology techniques, tissue culture and immunoassays in brain tissue. The successful candidate will work alongside other PhD students, post-doctoral scientists and clinical fellows in the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research within Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience.

Study information

Start month:

September 2018

Funding information

Funding applies to:
Open to applicants from a range of countries
Funding notes:

100% UK/EU rates plus an annual stipend of £14,777 pa (2018-19 rate). Successful international candidates will be required to make up the difference between the UK/EU fees and international fees.

Contacts and how to apply

Academic contact:

For further details, please contact Professor Bobby McFarland, email:

Administrative contact and how to apply:

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please 'Create a new account’

Only mandatory fields need to be completed. However, you will need to include the following information:

- insert the programme code 8300F in the programme of study section
- select ‘PhD in the Faculty of Medical Sciences (full time) - Neuroscience' as the programme of study
- insert the studentship code IN099 in the studentship/partnership reference field
- attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote the studentship reference IN099 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
- attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.