PhD: MicroRNAs as novel therapeutic targets in ischaemic brain injury

This PhD aims to reduce the devastating impact of stroke through a greater understanding of the molecular mechanisms mediating neuronal injury and cell death during acute stoke to improve the efficacy of current clinical models, widening the therapeutic window and facilitating brain recovery.

  • Principal investigator(s) Dr Shona Pfeiffer
  • Research theme Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders

Project description

Ischaemic stroke is a leading cause of death and the most-common cause of acquired major disability resulting from death of brain tissue and focal neurological deficits. However, despite decades of research, treatment options remain limited and the lack of therapeutic treatment strategies is a critical clinical problem.

Cerebral ischaemia triggers a complex series of physiological, biochemical and gene expression changes ultimately mediating neuronal injury and cell death and the complex nature of the ischaemic cascade has made identification of clinically useful biochemical markers of ischaemia challenging. Endogenous microRNAs (miRNA) are potent regulators of gene function elevated in a wide range of diseases, with crucial roles as regulators of signalling pathways involved in ischaemia-reperfusion injury. The roles played by miRNAs and their dysregulation in disease, particularly their ability to regulate multiple genes in similar pathways, combined with remarkable stability in biofluids and easy detection, leave them uniquely poised as ideal biomarkers and therapeutic targets in the ischaemic environment.

Identification of multi-targeting endogenously expressed biomarkers has significant potential for the development of neuroprotective agents, reducing stroke mortality rates. The outcomes of this research have significant potential for application and translation as effective and feasible interventions, substantially improving patient care and outcome. 

Tenure: Four years


Minimum requirements:

  • Upper second class (2.1) honours degree in molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, genetics, neuroscience, or similar

  • English language requirements for candidates who do not speak English as their first language is an IELTS score of 6.5 or above

Desirable candidate specifications include:

  • Previous laboratory research experience in cell and molecular biology techniques
  • Good communication skills
  • Strong organisational and administrative skills
  • Ability to work on one’s own initiative, as well as in a multidisciplinary, team environment
  • Willingness to undertake training and career development

Application process

There is an open rolling registration for this position, which begins 2021.

Please apply with an up-to-date CV, a 500-word statement outlining your interest in and suitability for the position, and contact details of two referees to

Successful candidates will be able to attend a virtual interview if they wish.