A SINAPSE seed fund PhD studentship is available at the University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with the University of Dundee and industry partner Optos.

Project summary:

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, a condition with symptoms such as memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. Cell death and loss of function in the retina or brain is called neurodegeneration. AMD leads to noticeable changes to the eye as it damages the macula, the region of the retina needed for sharp, central vision. The retina also displays subtle, tell-tale signs of AD. The health of small blood vessels in the retina closely matches that of similarly sized blood vessels in the brain. Deteriorating vessel health in the brain with AD is mirrored in the eye through the appearance of abnormalities in the retinal vessels. Also, tiny deposits in the outlying areas of the retina seem to be more common in people with AD and this is thought to reflect similar deposits forming in the brain. The retina can be imaged easily and non-invasively with very little discomfort for the person being examined. People are increasingly familiar with this technology through routine checks of eye health at the high street optician. Ultra-widefield retinal imaging, which we are proposing to use for this project, shows more of the retina in one go, and we believe that developing new analysis for these types of images will lead to more effective tests of neurodegeneration. For AMD this would help to prevent vision loss and blindness, while for AD it would contribute to better diagnosis or to helping monitor people thought to be at risk of developing the disease later in life.

Application deadline: 1st April 2016

For more information on the project and how to apply, please visit: http://www.edneurophd.ed.ac.uk/basic-neuroscience-clinical-degeneration/assessing-neurodegeneration-retina-and-brain-ultra

Details of the other awarded seed fund studentships to follow: PhD Opportunities.