Vacancy UCL

University College London, United Kingdom


Applications are invited for a PhD studentship within the Molecular Nociception Group at the Wolfson Institute for Medical Research (WIBR), University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT UK.

This is a 3 year, fixed term, post funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement n°642720. The position is available within the Innovative Training Network on BonePain (

Project: Molecular mechanisms and sensory neuronal subtypes mediating cancer-induced bone pain.

BonePain is the first European platform to promote frontline research, innovation and education on bone pain. Millions in Europe and beyond suffer from bone pain, which is a debilitating complication of many skeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis and bone metastasis but also of fractures. The BonePain network has participants from 5 European countries and encompasses 6 academic groups and 3 industrial partners, all committed to creating an outstanding training program for early stage researchers to elucidate the mechanisms of bone pain and develop new treatments.

The proposed project will involve the use of transgenic  mice and in vivo imaging and electrophysiological techniques in order to explore the neuronal pathways and molecular mechanisms that underlie the initiation and maintenance of cancer-induced bone pain in the peripheral nervous system. The aims of the project are:

  1. To identify the subpopulations of sensory neurons involved in the transduction of painful stimuli in animal models of cancer-induced bone pain. This will be achieved through the use of mice that express genetically-encoded calcium indicators specifically within sensory neurons so that neuronal activity can be optically recorded in real-time, in vivo.
  2. To define the  precise populations of neurons involved in bone pain using RNAseq and immunocytochemical studies.
  3. To perform electrophysiological analyses on identified dissociated sensory neurons to investigate  potential mechanistic changes that occur in different models of cancer-induced bone pain.
  4. To evaluate the significance of possible analgesic drug targets  in the identified neurons  in the development of bone pain using pharmacological and transgenic approaches. Behavioural techniques will include monitoring measures of mechanical sensitivity, thermal sensitivity, weight bearing and limb use – all standard procedures for assessing pain sensitivity in rodents.


Prof John N Wood, (Molecular Nociception Group, UCL,

Required Qualifications

We are seeking highly motivated and enthusiastic students with a relevant first degree. Experience in GCaMP-imaging, electrophysiology, cell cultures and chronic pain research would be an advantage. English language proficiency and good general communication skills are expected.

Applicants must be in the first four years of their research career. The four years are counted from the date of the degree which formally entitles them to embark on a doctorate was obtained.

Applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, study, etc.) in the UK for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the time of recruitment.

General Job Description

Your key tasks as a PhD student at the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research will be:

  • Manage and carry out your research project
  • Participate in the BonePain training and network activities
  • Attend PhD training courses
  • Write publications and your PhD thesis
  • Participate in national and international scientific meetings
  • Spend time in another research laboratory of the Training Network on BonePain to learn a new technique.
  • Disseminate your research

Key Criteria for Assessment of Applications

  • Relevant research and communication skills and knowledge
  • Personal statement
  • Previous publications
  • Relevant work experience
  • The marks/grades achieved during Bachelors/Masters degrees
  • Other professional activities

Terms of Employment

The successful candidate will be offered a full-time Ph.D position for a period of 3 years. Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with those of UCL. In addition to the basic salary, mobility and family allowances will be added.

How to Apply?

Applicants are requested to submit their application to Prof Wood (subject “Ph.D. application”) 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.

Closing Date for Applications

Wednesday 25th March 2015

Starting Date

1st June, 2015