London: Intracellular transport of mitochondria in vivo: implications for ageing and neurodegeneration

To start: 1st October 2017
Deadline: Thursday 1st June 2017


1 fully funded IoPPN PhD studentship


The project advertised is part of a long-term research programme aimed at advancing our basic understanding of neuronal cell biology. We are particularly interested in studying neuronal trafficking, with a focus on the intricate relationship between mitochondrial dynamics and neuronal functions. Our primary interest extends to the cell biology of neurodegeneration and neuronal ageing.

We have recently developed a novel in vivo system for non-invasive, detailed imaging of axonal transport in ageing neurons of Drosophila melanogaster (Vagnoni 2016, PMID 27560175). We have discovered a remarkable age-dependent decline in the proportion of mitochondria that undergo active transport in sensory axonsof Drosophila (Vagnoni 2016, PMID 26598558). Upregulation of mitochondrial transport correlates with a suppression of protein aggregation in ageing neurons, a hallmark of neuronal dysfunction. Our findings therefore suggest that experimentally increasing transport of mitochondria may be protective towards age-related neuronal dysfunction.

The successful applicant will focus on addressing one of the following questions: (1) what are the mechanisms underlying decreased mitochondrial transport over ageing, (2) what is the causal link between decreased transport and appearance of protein aggregates, (3) what is the spatial and temporal sequence of events that leads to impaired neuronal function in ageing and disease.

S/he will be able to combine in vivo and in vitro approaches by using Drosophila melanogaster and mammalian primary cultures. The post represents a unique opportunity to receive extensive training in a wide range of techniques (molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, advanced microscopy, cell culture). The Department is located within the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute, which has excellent laboratories and access to cutting-edge equipment and core facilities.

The position is suitable for an outstanding, highly motivated and collaborative individual who has the ambition to contribute to the scientific progress in the field of neuronal cell biology.

For more details/informal enquiries, please contact Dr. Alessio Vagnoni


Dr. Alessio Vagnoni

Entry requirements

Applicants should have (or be expected to obtain) a 2:1 or 1st class honours degree in a subject relevant to the proposed project. If applicants already possess (or expect to obtain) a research-based MSc degree, a merit or distinction level is required.

Award type and eligibility

The award covers  3-years PhD tuition fees and a competitive stipend for UK/EU nationals. 

How to apply

Applicants must complete and submit an online admissions application, via the admissions portal by midnight (23:59 GMT), Thursday 1st June 2017. 

On the ‘Choosing a programme’ page, please select ‘Research degrees’ and enter the keyword Clinical Neuroscience. 

In your application, you will be asked to include:

  • Academic Transcripts – where applicable, academic transcripts must be submitted with the online admissions application
  • Details of your qualifications (you will need to attach copies)
  • Details of previous employment
  • A personal statement describing your interests and why you wish to apply for this project. Please include this as an attachment rather than using the text box.
  • Academic References – all admissions applications require two supporting references. If the applicant is relying on his/her referees to submit references directly to the College after he/she has submitted his/her admissions application, then the applicant must ensure that their chosen referees are made aware of the funding deadline.

In the Funding section, please tick box 5 and include the following reference: AVIoPPN17

Please note there is no need to complete the Research Proposal section in your application as the project has already been set.

You are welcome to email Dr. Alessio Vagnoni for more information regarding the project and studentship.

If you have any queries regarding the application process, please contact the Postgraduate Research Administrator

References must be received by the deadline for the applicant to be eligible.

Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

Closing Date: Thursday 1st June 2017 (23:59 GMT)

Interviews: TBC - June 2017.

Further Information

About the IoPPN 

Studying at the IoPPN 

Research degrees at the IoPPN