Job ID: 98026

PhD in Neuroplasticity: Development of probes to target perineuronal nets for understanding neuroplasticity

Position: Ph.D. Student

Deadline: 8 January 2023

Employment Start Date: 11 November 2022

Contract Length: 36

City: Leeds

Country: United Kingdom

Institution: University of Leeds

Department: School of Biomedical Sciences


Are you keen in a multi-disciplinary research project combining chemistry and physics to design tools for use in neurobiology?

Perineuronal nets (PNNs) are specialised extracellular matrix structures on the surface of neurones. They control synapse formation and neuronal plasticity, but the underpinning biochemical and biophysical mechanisms are not well understood. Progress is hampered by the lack of tools to selectively label PNNs and visualise their organisation.

In this project, you will design and develop ‘superselective’ molecular probes that recognise PNNs whilst minimising interference by other brain extracellular matrix structures. You will combine bio-conjugation techniques and advanced protein biochemistry to engineer multivalent probes that recognise specifically the glycan antigens overexpressed in PNNs. You will also use state-of-the-art biophysical and cell biology techniques to evaluate superselective recognition of PNN-bearing model surfaces and neurones.

If successful, this project will provide a long-awaited tool to progress our fundamental understanding of neurobiology. In the future, it may also help tackle neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or schizophrenia.

This project is supported by a multi-disciplinary team of supervisors with expertise in all research areas relevant to this project. Applicants are encouraged to contact the supervisors ( for more information on this project before submitting their application.