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Zebrafish models of Major Depressive Disorder

Start date

1st June or 1st October 2023


1 fully funded 4-year NC3Rs PhD studentship, Department of Developmental Neurobiology, IoPPN


This project is part of our ongoing work on assessing the roles of candidate risk genes for neurological disorders using zebrafish models. Here we will focus on Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), one of the most common mental disorders worldwide. 

The student will use data from genome wide association studies and select a number of candidate genes with strong evidence for MDD causality, suitable for modelling in zebrafish. Using innovative CRISPR genome editing technology transient and stable mutant animals will be generated and put through an established assessment pipeline. This will include characterisation of biochemical and genetic markers and spontaneous brain activity (in vivo calcium imaging). Furthermore, the student will carry out a number of behavioural tests relevant to MDD. In the final part of this project, we will have the opportunity to use automated high-throughput drug screens in zebrafish larvae to identify potential new therapeutic strategies related to depression.

The successful applicant will be specially trained on approaches on the principles of the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement), and thus get a unique perspective of animal experimentation throughout the project.

The post represents a unique opportunity to join a dynamic research group at King’s College London connected to local and international collaborators and will be part of the MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders and the Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, located on Guy’s Campus. We profit from state-of-the-art facilities, including a modern fish husbandry unit, behavioural rooms, multiple imaging centres and a genome editing core. 

The position is suitable for a highly motivated, hard-working, positive and collaborative individual who has the ambition to contribute to the scientific progress in the field of developmental neurobiology.

For more details/informal enquiries, please contact Prof. Robert Hindges:


Prof. Robert Hindges (1st supervisor) and Prof. Beatriz Rico (2nd supervisor)

Entry requirements

Applicants should have (or be expected to obtain) a Bachelors degree with 2:1 honours (or Overseas equivalent). A 2:2 degree may be considered only where applicants also offer a Masters with Merit.

Award types and eligibility

Students will be fully funded for four years full time, to include an annual UKRI-level stipend as well as reasearch and some travel costs.

Home tuitions fees covered. Definition of ‘Home’ fees can be found here:

To be treated as a Home student, candidates must meet one of the following criteria:

  • A UK national (meeting residency requirements)
  • Settled status
  • Pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements)
  • Indefinite leave to remain or enter

Applicants that do not qualify for Home tuition fees can still apply for the studentship although they need to be able to self-fund the shortfall (approximately £20,000/year, see also: to cover international tuition fees.

Further information

About the main supervisor’s research group (

About the MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders (

About the Centre for Developmental Neurobiology (

About the IoPPN (link to

Studying at the IoPPN (link to

Research degrees at the IoPPN (link to

How to apply

Applicants must complete and submit an online admissions application, via the admissions portal by midnight (23:59 GMT), Tuesday 31st January 2023.

On the ‘Choosing a programme’ page, please select MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology Research MPhil/PhD (Full-time).

In your application, you will be asked to include:

  • Academic Transcripts – where applicable, academic transcripts must be submitted with the online admissions application
  • Details of your qualifications (you will need to attach copies)
  • Details of previous employment - please include your CV
  • A personal statement describing your interests and why you wish to apply for this project. Please include this as an attachment rather than using the text box.
  • Academic References – all admissions applications require one supporting reference. If the applicant is relying on thier referees to submit a reference directly to the College after they have submitted thier admissions application, then the applicant must ensure that (1) their chosen referee is made aware of the funding deadline (i.e. 7 days from application deadline) and (2) that the reference needs to be sent from an institutional email address.

In the Funding section, please tick box 5 and include the following reference: RH-IoPPN-NC3Rs-23

Please note there is no need to complete the Research Proposal section in your application as the project has already been set.

You are welcome to email (supervisor) for more information regarding the project and studentship.

If you have any queries regarding the application process, please contact the Education support team at

References must be received by the deadline for the applicant to be eligible.

Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

Closing date

Tuesday 31st January 2023 (23:59 GMT)


16th February 2023


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