Job ID: 61847

PhD studentship in Aberdeen/UK

Position: Ph.D. Student

Deadline: 16 December 2021

Employment Start Date: 1 October 2022

Contract Length: 4 years

City: Aberdeen

Country: United Kingdom

Institution: University of Aberdeen

Department: The Rowett Institute


A 48 months PhD placement is available at the Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, UK. This position is a part of the BBSRC funded doctoral training programme EastBio.

A balanced diet and an appropriate control of feeding is fundamental to a healthy life. It is especially important during critical life stages like childhood or adolescence when nutritional needs change and an unbalanced diet may induce long-lasting metabolic and neurocognitive alterations. Within the brain, the dopamine system plays a central role in integrating food-related signals into reward values, driving food choice and food-seeking behaviours. Interestingly recent studies in both humans and rodents have shown that dopamine neurons are not only sensitive to palatable taste but are also stimulated by the energy content of the food (e.g.nutrient type and energy content),which may participate to the overconsumption of highly palatable energy-rich foods, beyond nutritional needs. These different signals are conveyed through segregated dopamine circuits projecting to different brain circuits. However, little is still known about how these nutrient sensing signals are changing through the life course and how they may be vulnerable to unhealthy dietary habits.

We previously demonstrated that dopamine circuits presented different developmental patterns ending during adolescence (Naneix et al., 2012). Moreover, we also showed that these circuits are highly sensitive to palatable food during this life stage, inducing long lasting alterations (Naneix et al., 2018). More recently we used latest recording techniques to visualise neuronal activity and dopamine release in behaving animals with high temporal resolution and specificity (Gonzalez et al., 2016; Chiacchierini*, Naneix* et al., 2021).

Using a recent advances in optical recording techniques (fibre photometry combined with specific dopamine sensors) in mice, this project will 1) characterise the changes in dopamine-related nutrient sensing from childhood to adulthood, and 2) understand how this maturation may be altered by unhealthy dietary habits like obesogenic diet.

The project will offer an excellent opportunity to be trained in state-of-the-art modern neuroscience techniques. The student will also gain fundamental concept in behavioural neuroscience and experimental psychology.

The ideal candidate should have a good knowledge in neuroscience and an interest in cognition and behaviour. Prior experience in programming (e.g. Python) and/or using laboratory animals (rodents) would be an advantage. A strong willingness to contribute to the team life is essential.


Fabien Naneix

Antonio Gonzalez

For more information and the application procedure check here

For informal enquires, please contact Dr Fabien Naneix