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PhD Position DAAD

The Department of Experimental Pain Research at the Medical Faculty Mannheim of the University Heidelberg appreciates to receive applications for a PhD-position in a project that is funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG) and entitled "Selective activation of nociceptor sub-groups by slowly depolarizing electrical stimuli".

There is growing evidence that neuropathic pain in patients is driven and maintained by abnormal firing patterns and spontaneous discharges of unmyelinated afferent neurons (C-nociceptors). Mutations of the voltage-gated sodium channels NaV1.7, 1.8 und 1.9 were identified as one mechanism associated with the generation of neuropathic pain.

Your tasks

In this project you will examine slowly depolarizing electrical stimulation protocols to specifically activate C-nociceptors. The activation of C-nociceptors will be electro-physiologically assessed by single nerve-fiber recordings in the pig (Sus scrofa) in vivo and validated by clearly characterised C-nociceptor sub-classes. Slow depolarization ramp currents cause the preferential opening of NaV1.7, 1.8 or 1.9 channels. In the project, sodium channel modulating toxins will be tested on the activation of specific C-nociceptor sub-classes by slowly depolarizing currents. The excitability of C-nociceptors will be recorded upon intradermal injections of the buffer-fish tetrodotoxin TTX (NaV1.8 and 1.9 are TTX resistant), the cone snail peptide conotoxin (NaV1.8 blocker) or the tarantula venom ProTx-II (NaV1.7 blocker).

Candidates (m/f) should have an educational background in Natural Sciences or Veterinary Medicine. Knowledge in electro-physiology and nerve fiber recordings would be advantageous. Expertise in the preparation of large animal in vivo (e.g. pre-medication, anaesthesia, dissection of a peripheral nerve) would be ideal. The post-holder will be part of the Experimental Pain Research Group at the Medical Faculty Mannheim of the University of Heidelberg. The group uses multi-disciplinary in vivo and in vitro approaches to elucidate how chronic pain (and itch) can develop and is maintained under pathologic conditions. The PhD mentor will provide the PhD-student the possibility to gain deep insights into the functional mechanisms contributing to chronic pain. For scientific enquiries please do not hesitate to contact Prof. Dr. Roman Rukwied (Roman.Rukwied@remove-this.medma.uni-heidelberg.de).

Salary and benefits of the PhD-position are according to the public sector employment in Germany, Baden Württemberg (TVöD E13, 60%). The contract should start as soon as possible and is limited for 3 years with option of extension. Please send your application by E-mail to Roman.Rukwied@remove-this.medma.uni-heidelberg.de and include a cover letter detailing your research interests and experiences, and attach a detailed CV as well as your Master and Bachelor degrees.

Your profile

  • MSc in Natural Sciences (Biology, Physics, Psychology) or Veterinary Medicine
  • Knowledge and experience in Neuroscience, Electro-physiology, or animal preparation would be an asset
  • Good scientific language skills and fluency in English
  • Team work capabilities in a multidisciplinary team

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