PhD position in applied neurophotonics and translational neuroscience for treatment of psychiatric and neurological diseases with brain network dysfunction


IMG 6740


Project Description

While the pharmaceutical arena has focused on specific molecular targets to which the drug binds, such as an enzyme or receptor through a well-defined mechanism of action (MOA), this project focuses on targeting the dynamic electrical network of the brain as disease-modifying mode of action (MoA). Specifically, by using an external stimulus for therapeutic use we intend to investigate how to move a diseased brain network towards a healthy network state by driving the system. External stimulation of an oscillating network forms a natural extension to reductionistic pharmacological intervention which aims at targeting one specific component of the oscillating network. Thus, this macroscopic approach with a yet unexplored MoA holds enormous potential. We are looking for a PhD-student for an exciting project to investigate how time-modulated light affects the brain with the goal of using light as a form of treatment of diseases associated with brain network dysfunction.

In this project, the PhD-student will design, conduct, and analyze a series of pilot studies within psychiatric and neurological diseases with brain network dysfunction utilizing a light-based non-invasive neurostimulation system from Optoceutics. Additionally, the PhD-student will design, develop, implement, and test a new optical fiber system for optogenetic, and light therapy experiments conducted through secondments to partner and beneficiaries in ASTROTECH. The PhD-student will explore new targeted therapeutic approaches to control and manipulate the diseased brain network towards a health state of the brain network. The success of the project will heavily rely on the practical work regarding design, conduction, and analysis of clinical trials, and the PhD-student will here learn, not limited to, how to run clinical trials, apply advanced analysis of electrophysiological signals from electroencephalography (EEG) recordings as well as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Additionally, through secondments to partner and beneficiaries within the ASTROTECH consortium, understand and relate the role of astrocytes on network dysfunction and light induced impact on pathology through in vivo and ex vivo pilot experiments. Specifically, the PhD student will work, in close collaboration with a Danish medical doctor who will be responsible for contact with patients and healthy volunteers. The host institution where the PhD-student will be enrolled to obtain a doctoral degree is the Department of Clinical Research, University of Copenhagen. The main university supervisor is physicist, Prof. Paul Michael Petersen from the Technical University of Denmark, Department of Photonics Engineering. The co-supervisors are Prof. Troels W. Kjær, Neurologist at the Zealand University Hospital, and Prof. Line K. H. Clemmensen from the Technical University of Denmark, Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. The employment of the industrial PhD is through Optoceutics ApS, and the main company supervisor is the Marcus S. Carstensen, CTO at OptoCeutics.

❚ Why JOIN the team?

JOIN the research consortium in case you want to be part of impact-driven, energetic international R&D company and research environment. Also JOIN the team if you like to learn new exciting things every day. Finally, JOIN the team if you want to participate in developing and testing novel neurophotonic technologies for the improvement of lives of individuals, families and relatives struggling with neurogenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, every single day.

❚ Introduction to ASTROTECH – EU Research Consortium

ASTROTECH is cross-sectorial EU research consortium with the aim of developing disruptive materials, technologies & approaches to unravel the role of Astrocytes in brain function and dysfunction: towards to Glial interfaces. The past four decades demonstrated that non-neuronal cells, called astrocytes are emerging as crucial players for brain function & dysfunction. A major obstacle of previous and current initiatives on Neurotechnologies is a lack of focus on astrocytes and most of the tools used to probe and sense astrocytes are derived from those developed to study neurons. ASTROTECH will create and develop the field of Glial Engineering, to provide a consistent range of tools to record, study, and manipulate astrocytes in the healthy and diseased brain. ASTROTECH will train 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) on research, training and complimentary skills aiming at: engineering biomaterials and nanostructured interfaces to provide in vivo-like in vitro models for controlled & reliable studies of astrocytes in vitro; fabrication and characterization of nanostructured devices for stimulation, recording and biosensing of astrocytes; optogenetics tools, optoelectronic device & photonic methods for precise and cell selective stimulation of astrocytes; computational approaches to describe and predict neuron-astrocytes interactions. The training on state-of-the-art biomaterials interfaces, electronic, photonic devices will be combined with in depth knowledge on optogenetics, neuroscience, glial physiology and biology and computational methods to validate the developed tools in vitro, ex vivo, in silico & in pathological models of glioma, ischemia, epilepsy and depression. The ASTROTECH network combines 11 beneficiaries and 14 partners belonging to 9 European and Non-EU countries Academia, Public Research Centers and industrial labs, that combines interdisciplinary, intersectoral and soft skills knowledges where the private sector is highly represented and covers every step “from benchside to bedside” of the value chain. ASTROTECH Glial Engineering to provide a more complete understanding of brain health and disorders.

❚ Requirements

  • Must not have resided in Denmark for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date and not have carried out main activity in Denmark.
  • Must be an ESR (early stage researcher), in the first 4 years, with no doctorate already.
  • Gender Aspects: equal opportunity policy – at least 40% of women among ESRs.

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Job Location: Kgs. Lyngby > Denmark
Type of Contract: Other
Hours per Week: 37-hr week
Starting Date: 03/01/2022
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