Job ID: 115414

Glial adrenergic receptors as targets for the treatment of neuropathic pain

Position: Ph.D. Student

Deadline: 15 September 2023

Employment Start Date: 1 November 2023

Contract Length: 3-4 years

City: Heidelberg

Country: Germany

Institution: Heidelberg University

Department: Institute for Anatomy and Cell Biology


Project: Activation of adrenergic receptors in the brain and spinal cord, and the neurostimulation have recently emerged as novel analgesic paradigms for the treatment of chronic pain. Glial cell such as microglia and astrocytes are known to be important players in the development and maintenance of chronic pain conditions, and express a variety of adrenergic receptors and respond to neurostimulation (e.g. trans-cranial direct current stimultiona, tDCS). In this project, we will investigate the glial adrenergic receptors mechanisms in the develop of novel approaches for an effective and efficient pain relief.

In this PhD thesis project, we aim to understand whether adrenergic receptors agonists and tDCS utilise common mechanisms to impart their analgesic effects by engaging norepinephrine signalling on astrocytes and microglia. To address this question, we will study chronic pain mechanism in central (brain and spinal cord) pain axis. We will combine mouse genetics and recombinant AAV (rAAVs) based viral vectors for cell-type and region-specific manipulation of adrenergic receptor signalling in the nociceptive pathway. We will use a wide array of techniques such as in vivo two-photon microscopy (2PM), in vivo Ca2+ imaging, electrophysiology, metabolomics, cytokine assays, single-cell transcriptomics, and pain behavioural analysis.  Additionally, to validate key findings in our mouse models of neuropathic pain, we will use co-cultures of human iPSC-derived astrocytes, microglial cells, and neurons.

Heidelberg University is the oldest university in Germany and it offers the best life science research program in the country. The University provides a dynamic and multidisciplinary environment for the neuroscience research with state-of-the-art core facilities and transgenic animal facility. CellNetworks, University’s Cluster of Excellence, hosts several core facilities such as the Nikon Imaging Center, RNA Sequencing cores and mouse behavioural core.

Eligible qualifications: Diploma/Master in a biomedical, life sciences (Biology, Biochemistry, Neuroscience), medicine or related disciplines.

Desirable skills:  Hands-on laboratory experience in molecular cell biology, biochemistry, advanced imaging techniques, 2-photon microscopy, electrophysiology, and stereotaxic injections will be strongly preferred. Ability to work in a team and independently plan and conduct experiments is essential. A good proficiency in english language skills is required (German language is not a requirement)

Please enclose the following documents with your application as a single pdf file: CV with publications, 2-page motivation letter, copies of degree certificates and contact details (name, address and email) of 3 people who can provide reference letters.