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Postgraduate research project

Does systemic inflammation accelerate tau spreading by promoting glial activation?

Fully funded (UK only)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease, with a complex biology. We aim to explore the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying tau pathology in the absence or presence of systemic inflammation. The results may lead to improved understanding of the biological mechanism underlying spreading of Tau in the AD-affected brain.

Build-up of ‘amyloid plaques’ in the brain is recognised as an early feature of Alzheimer’s Disease, but the presence of tau tangles or inflammation better predicts memory loss. Tau tangles can spread through the brain affecting a whole network of neurons. Using an experimental model of AD, we showed that systemic inflammation accelerates the spreading of tau, possibly due to activation of microglial cells. 

This research aims to explore the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying accelerated tau pathology following systemic inflammation. You will use an experimental model to study the effect of a real live, systemic bacterial infection on glial activation, tau pathology and amyloid load. By exploring different time points we aim to identify how, and when, different cell types contribute to the spreading of tau. 

Using a range of advanced molecular techniques, You will investigate how glial cells and neurons interact and organise across the tissue landscape, using both mouse and human tissue. As bacterial infections can be treated, understanding the connection to the brain may lead to novel treatment and outcomes of AD patients.

You will benefit from training in a range of techniques, including: 

  • vivo models
  • immunohistochemistry
  • advanced imaging
  • spatial transcriptomics
  • computational modelling

This interdisciplinary PhD studentship is a collaborative project between the University of Southampton and the University of Exeter.