Vacancy UCL

University College London, United Kingdom


We have two open positions for PhD fellows in the EU-funded Innovative Training Network BonePain. The PhD position is Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London, UK. Expected starting date June 1, 2015. The application deadline is March 25, 2015.

Project Overview

BonePain is the first European platform to promote frontline research, innovation and education within bone pain. Millions in Europe and beyond suffer from bone pain, which is a debilitating complication of many musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis and bone metastasis. The BonePain network have participants from 5 European countries and encompasses 6 academic groups and 3 industries all committed to creating an outstanding training program for early stages researchers to elucidate the mechanisms of bone pain and develop new medicines.

Project Title 1: Central Consequences of cancer-induced bone pain

You will be performing in vivo electrophysiological recordings in the spinal cord and brain under full general anaesthesia. The studies aim to look at coding of sensory information from the bone and adjacent tissues, looking at central sensitization and dissecting out the role of pharmacological systems in the responses. In addition, in collaboration with Dr Amy Fisher at Transpharmation you will study the behavioural processing of sensory events in the model. Here, assessment of pain-related behaviors will be performed by monitoring naturalistic (non-evoked) end-points. The duration and frequency of many additional multi-faceted behavioural parameters will be measured using LABORAS™  (Laboratory Animal Behaviour Observation Registration & Analysis System). Thus the project aims to link behaviour with neuronal events.

Project Title 2: Ion Channels in Osteoarthritis

For this position you will work on a rodent model of OA. There is much interest in novel ion channel modulators in pain, but little is known about their roles in OA. Here the aim would be to study how peripheral and central ion channels shape neuronal responses in the spinal cord and brain. The project will study how joint inputs are processed at various levels of the CNS and how deep tissue inputs are dealt with, in comparison to cutaneous signals. The contribution of neuropathic changes to the OA state will also be looked at.

The project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 642720.


Dept of Neurosscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London, UK. The principal supervisor will be Professor Tony Dickenson, email:, direct phone +44 207 679 3742.

Required Qualifications

The successful candidate must hold a relevant BSc or MSc degree. Experience with in vivo models, biology or chronic pain research will be an advantage. Solid level of English and good general communication skills are an advantage.

General Job Description

Your key tasks as a PhD fellow at the Faculty are to:

  • manage and carry through your research project
  • participate in the BonePain training and network activities
  • take PhD courses
  • write scientific articles and your PhD thesis
  • participate in national and international congresses and scientific meetings
  • research stay at an external research laboratory
  • disseminate your research
  • participate in the undergraduate teaching of students in pharmacology etc.

Key Criteria for the Assessment of Applicants

  • Relevant skills and knowledge
  • Enthusiasm and motivation
  • Relevant work experience
  • The grades achieved during bachelor/master studies
  • Other professional activities
  • Language skills
  • Assessment of the candidate’s motivation letter

Formal Requirements

The position is available for a three-year period for applicants holding a relevant master´s degree.

The candidate needs to be in the first four years of her/his research career. The four years are counted from the date the degree was obtained which formally entitles to embark on a doctorate.

The candidate must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc.) in UK for more than 12 months in the last 3 years immediately prior to the reference date.

Terms of Employment

The successful candidates will receive a salary in accordance with the MSCA regulations for early stage researchers. Exact salary will be confirmed upon appointment [Living Allowance = 37.320 euro/year (correction factor to be applied per country) + Monthly mobility allowance = 600 to 1100 euro depending on the family situation.


For further information, applicants may contact the principal supervisor

How to Apply

Applicants are requested to submit their application Prof Dickenson including (in word or pdf):

  • Cover letter: Letter stating the interest in and qualifications for the project (max. one page)
  • Full CV
  • Diploma and transcripts of records: Master´s degree diploma (including grade transcripts for bachelor´s and master´s degrees).
  • Applicants with a Master´s degree from abroad should also enclose a short description of the grading scale used
  • List of publications
  • 2 letters of recommendation including contact details for references

For those applicants whose principal language of instruction during their BSc/MSc was not English it will a be an advantage if they enclose IELTS or TOEFL test scores or equivalent proof of English skills

Deadline for Applications

March 25, 2015.

Applications will be evaluated by an assessment committee consisting of the principal supervisor and 1-2 other members of the BonePain network. Short-listed candidates will be invited for a Skype interview. An answer as to the granting of the fellowship can be expected appr. 6 weeks after application deadline. In case of qualified, but unsuccessful applications, applicants have the choice of having their application forwarded to another suitable BonePain network member for consideration.