PhD Studentship Opportunity at Trinity College Dublin
The Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute is inviting applications for a motivated and self-driven individual to undertake a PhD research project in the Discipline of Physiology. The research will focus on comparing and combining various neuroimaging and neurophysiological methods for the early detection of neurodegenerative disease biomarkers, specifically Huntington's Disease (HD) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
The project involves the use of functional and structural MRI, TMS and EEG, statistical analysis and custom MATLAB and R scripts, and will be led by Dr McMackin with co-advisement from Dr Carson and close collaboration with the Academic Unit of Neurology. The PhD studentship starts in March 2023 and interests in programming, statistical analysis, and neuroimaging data collection are highly desirable.
Applications are invited for a motivated and self-driven individual. The PhD research, undertaken at the Discipline of Physiology of the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, involves comparing and combining different neuroimaging/neurophysiological methods for the identification of early neurodegenerative disease biomarkers, specifically in Huntington’s Disease (HD) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Neuroimaging methods will include functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Electrophysiological methods will include transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalography (EEG). These methods will be used to measure brain structure and function, while high dimensional statistical analyses will be implemented to examine how combinations of these measures can be used to identify or predict the prognosis of HD and ALS.
This project will involve working with large numerical datasets, optimisation of data processing and statistical analysis pipelines and writing custom MATLAB and R scripts for automated data, therefore interests in programming and statistical analysis are highly desirable. Interest and experience in collecting/processing neuroimaging and/or electrophysiology data are also highly desirable. The PhD student will work as part of the team of a young and dynamic team led by Dr McMackin. Imaging work will be co-advised by Dr Richard Carson of Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN), with HD and ALS research performed in close collaboration with the Academic Unit of Neurology, TBSI.
The PhD studentship is expected to start in March 2023.
Standard Duties and Responsibilities of the Post
The successful applicant will:
Analyse large numerical datasets including structural and functional MRI data(diffusion tensor imaging, blood oxygen level-dependent functional MRI, and T1- and T2-weighted structural MRI), 128-channel EEG signal data and TMS-EMG data to extract and statistically analyse measures of neural network activation, connectivity and excitability in health and disease.
Design and optimise statistical analyses and mixed effect models.
Write and refine custom MATLAB and R-based scripts to perform the aforementioned analyses.
Assist in the collection of MRI, EEG and TMS-EMG data (at St. James’s Hospital, Dublin, and the Lloyd Institute, TCD), alongside other team members.
Keep accurate, up-to-date, detailed records of research.
Participate in scientific and intellectual developments within the group.
Report regularly to the project supervisors.
Work closely with other team members (PhD students and Research Assistants).
Scholarship fund provided by the Discipline of Physiology, School of Medicine, TCD.
The ideal candidate has a demonstrated competency in performing research involving analysis of neurophysiological/neuroimaging signals or similar areas at the Bachelors or Masters level with an interest in building his/her research profile in biomedical, psychological and clinical research.
Applicants should hold a minimum upper-second class (2:1) honours degree (or equivalent) in a Bachelors degree, which included at least one module in mathematics and/or statistical analysis, any of the following areas: Neuroscience, Neural/Biological Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics, Theoretical Physics, Physiology, Medicine, Psychology or cognate fields.
Knowledge & Experience (Essential & Desirable)
- MATLAB (or similar) computer programming proficiency (advanced proficiency desirable but not required).
- Experience in electrophysiological and/or neuroimaging data collection and analysis.
- Experience working with individuals with motor, cognitive and/or behavioural impairment.
- Understanding of participant recruitment pipelines.
Skills & Competencies
- Appropriate social acumen working with individuals with motor, cognitive and/or behavioural impairment.
- Proficiency in Microsoft Office Word and Excel programmes.
- Highly self-motivated with the ability to work both alone and as part of a team.
- Able to take the initiative when working alone.
- Excellent organisational skills and ability to prioritise work and meet deadlines.
- Able to establish appropriate documentation and record keeping.
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