Job ID: 114292

Phd position in Neuroscience: Functional and structural plasticity following spinal cord injury: contributions to chronic central neuropathic pain

Position: Ph.D. Student

Deadline: 31 March 2024

Employment Start Date: 1 July 2024

Contract Length: 3 years

City: Heidelberg

Country: Germany

Institution: Heidelberg University Hospital

Department: Spinal Cord Injury Center, Experimental Neuroregeneration Laboratory


1) Project Summary:

The overarching goal of this project is to understand the underlying mechanisms that transpire after spinal cord injury that lead toward half of all spinal cord injury (SCI) patients suffering from neuropathic pain.  With this project we are trying to elucidate and target upstream pathways responsible for SCI neuropathic pain initiation (specifically nociceptor hyperexcitability) and maintenance with pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions in combination with the optimal time window for intervention to promote profound and sustained therapeutic effects.  This project is a rodent-human tandem project for translational work.


2) References (3-5):

Sliwinski C, Heutehaus L, Taberner FJ, Weiss L, Kampanis V,  Tolou-Dabbaghian B, Cheng X,  Motsch M, Heppenstall PA, Kuner R, Franz S, Lechner SG, Weidner N* and Puttagunta R*. Pre-injury mechanoreceptor ablation reduces nociceptor-driven spinal cord injury-induced neuropathic pain. BioRxiv, DOI: 10.1101/2022.12.18.520950

Chen J, Weidner N, Puttagunta R. The impact of activity-based interventions on neuropathic pain in experimental spinal cord injury. Cells. 11, 2022

Timotius IK, Bieler L, Couillard-Despres S, Sandner B, Garcia-Ovejero D, Labombarda F, Estrada V, Müller HW, Winkler J, Klucken J, Eskofier B, Weidner N, Puttagunta R. Combination of defined CatWalk gait parameters for predictive locomotion recovery in experimental spinal cord injury rat models. eNeuro. 8, 2021

Kampanis V, Tolou-Dabbaghian B, Zhou L, Roth W, Puttagunta R. Cyclic stretch of either PNS or CNS located nerves can stimulate neurite outgrowth. Cells. 10, 2020

Sliwinski C, Nees TA, Puttagunta R, Weidner N, Blesch A. Sensorimotor activity partially ameliorates pain and reduces nociceptive fiber density in the chronically injured spinal cord. J Neurotrauma. 35:2222-2238, 2018


3) Methods that will be used:

Pharmacological inhibition studies, proteomic selected iPSC differentiated nociceptor screens and alteration (viral and pharmacological) in mouse SCI model, behavioural pain assessments and histology.


4) Cooperation partners:

Members of the PAIN SfB 1158, in particular Dr. Stefan Lechner (A01, Heidelberg, nerve skin prep electrophysiology), Dr. Katrin Schrenk-Siemens and Dr. Claudio Acuna (S02, iNoci screening and electrophysiology) and Dr. Juergen Solinski (Z02N-INF, gene expression analysis of iNoci screens), and Dr. Anke Tappe-Theodor (A08, Heidelberg, video monitored assessments).


5) Eligible qualifications:

We are searching for a highly motivated and qualified M.Sc. student in molecular and cellular neuroscience, neurobiology, biochemistry, genetics or pain research to fill a TV-L salary scale, pay grade E13, 50%, up to 4 years to forge collaborative work within the Pain SfB1158 community and abroad along with interest in translational neuroscience.  We provide an international working environment with the working language of English (fluency required) but highly recommend a background in German as well.  It is important the student has obtained or will obtain certification to work with animals (FELASA Cat. B) as this will be a requirement for the work proposed here.  This candidate will be supervised by the PI but also need to demonstrate a high degree of enthusiasm and independence.


6) Desirable skills:

Given the project, experience with microscopy and animal experimentation is greatly appreciated. German is highly recommended for this position for clinical interactions.


7) Key words:

Neuropathic pain, Spinal Cord Injury, Nociceptor hyperexcitability


8) Enclosures:

The following documents must be enclosed with your application as a single pdf file: updated CV with publications, motivation letter, copies of degree certificates


Information for the applicant: For any updates and further information ( for e.g.: change of deadline of the application), please visit the consortium website career section: