NPP Logo

UCL Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, Division of Biosciences, Faculty of Life Sciences

NPP academic/Fellowship/support staff or researcher/technician vacancies are posted when available on the UCL HR website:-

Current NPP PhD place on offer for recruitment by start date 22 Sept 2014:-

Molecular pharmacological characterisation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and related neurotransmitter-gated ion channels

BBSRC Industrial CASE PhD Studentship

Department of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology, UCL

Applications are invited for a four-year BBSRC-funded ‘Industrial CASE’ PhD Studentship. The studentship forms part of a collaboration between Professor Neil Millar's laboratory at University College London (UCL) and Syngenta. The successful applicant will be based in Professor Millar's laboratory at UCL but will also have an opportunity to spend a period of time (minimum of 3 months) working in Syngenta’s research laboratories based at the Jealott’s Hill International Research Centre in Bracknell, Berkshire, UK.

Research in Professor Millar’s group at UCL is focused on the pharmacological characterisation of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) and also of related neurotransmitter receptors that form part of the superfamily of pentameric ligand-gated ion channels. In recent years, research in the laboratory has examined the pharmacological properties and the mechanism of action of nAChR allosteric modulators, a group of compounds that may have potential uses in the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders. The primary aim of this PhD project is to extend these studies by examining neurotransmitter receptors cloned from a variety of mammalian and insect species. We are interested in examining species-selectivity of allosteric modulators but also in their potential as novel insecticides. This project will employ a range of pharmacological and molecular biological techniques to examine recombinant receptors in expression systems such as cultured cells and Xenopus oocytes. In addition to requiring molecular biological techniques such as site-directed mutagenesis and the construction of receptor subunit chimeras, the project will employ functional assays such as two-electrode voltage-clamp recording and intracellular calcium imaging. Our collaboration with Syngenta will provide an opportunity for the students to learn a wider variety of experimental techniques, during a placement at Syngenta’s research laboratories at Jealott’s Hill.

Further information on current research in Professor Millar’s laboratory, together with a list of recent publications can be found at:

Applicants must have, or expect to obtain a First or Upper Second class degree in a relevant subject. Applicants must be either UK residents or fulfil the residency requirements defined by the BBSRC. For qualifying applicants, the studentship will provide four years of funding which will cover university tuition fees and an annual stipend. In addition to providing the standard BBSRC stipend (currently £15,863/annum with annual increments), this stipend will be supplemented by an additional contribution (£3,000 per annum) from the industrial partner.

Applications, containing a CV, the names of two referees and a personal statement describing your research interests should be sent to:

Tina Bashford, Department of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology, University College London, London, WC1E 6BT, UK. Email:

The closing date for applications is 1st August 2014