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Biochemistry Dept.
University of  Oxford,
South Parks Rd.,
Oxford, ​OX1 3QU

FULLY FUNDED DPhil (PhD) Vacancy: DTP icase studentship 2019 in the Davis lab

Project Title: Elucidating how the brain develops, in health and disease, from stem cells using revolutionary imaging technologies at single molecule and cell resolutions

Supervisor(s) names: Prof. Ilan Davis (Drosophila neurobiology expert), Dr. Alfredo Castello (RNA virus expert) and Prof. Martin Booth (expert optical engineer) 

Dr. Phillipa Timmins, Aurox (in consultation with the CEO, Non-Academic supervisor)

Department(s)/Organisation(s): Biochemistry, Engineering, Oxford

e-mail: informal enquiries:

              application enquiries:​

Tel: 01865 613271 (Ask for Darragh Ennis or Ilan Davis)

Please note: The stipend funding for this studentship is only available to UK

citizens and EU citizens who have been resident in the UK for several years.  

(if you are an EU citizen, please check your eligibility for funding by emailing

Brief description of project: (This project is supported through the Oxford Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) studentship programme. The student recruited to this project will join a cohort of students enrolled in the DTP’s interdisciplinary training programme, and will be able to take full advantage of the training and networking opportunities available through the DTP. For further details please visit 

Understanding how the brain and its full neuronal complexity develops from a limited number of stem cells is one of the most important questions in modern biology. A number of animal RNA viruses are known to infect the brain and affect neural stem cell behaviour, but their mechanism of infection is still poorly understood. The Davis lab has been using the highly accessible fruit fly model to address these questions by applying novel imaging technologies for direct visualisation of all the individual molecule transcripts in every cell in a whole brain (single molecule FISH), and live cell imaging of a developing explanted brain. The huge number of regulatory genes involved in regulating the stem cells, presents us with a major challenge for understanding normal development and the effects of RNA virus infections: visualising the expression of such a large number of genes and their mutations is not possible with current technologies.

Specific Aims of the Project:

1) Participate in building a bespoke laser free confocal microscope based on the Clarity spinning disc with unprecedented speed and high throughput capacity.

2) To undertake a systematic live analysis of the phenotypes and expression of numerous key factors already identified as required for correct stem cell behaviour.

3) To use this system to track at the single molecule and cell level the early stages of infection of a model arthropod-borne RNA virus (Sindbis) in the insect brain.

For this project we are looking for applicants who are dedicated and excited to carry out novel research, and the project is suitable for applicants from a very wide range of backgrounds, including biological or physical science, engineering, maths or computing degree and experience. While an interest in RNA biology, Neuroscience, Viral Biology or Microscopy would be good, no prior experience is required, as extensive training will be provided by the DTC programme and the host labs and partner spinout company. 

For informal queries about this exciting opportunity please contact Darragh ( or Ilan (

For questions about the application process please contact Lorraine Damerell (

OTHER Postgraduate opportunities in the Davis Lab

We are always interested in hearing from prospective PhD/D Phil students. The lab is currently interested in a range of research areas, using Drosophila  as a model, including mRNA localisation, regulation of synaptic plasticity, brain development and advanced imaging techniques. We are committed to training graduate students and foster them in the development of their own ideas. We welcome informal enquiries by email to: . Please attach a CV and a short statement explaining your motivation to undertake a PhD.

Be aware that all prospective graduate students will have to formally apply to a competitive graduate studies program before they can join the the Davis Lab.

More information about the DPhil  program in the Biochemistry department can be found here

We also host students from the following programs:
Graduate training programme in Neuroscience
Chromosome and Developmental Biology
Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership Programme (DTP)

EPSRC-MRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Biomedical Imaging

Job vacancies

There are currently no vacancies in the our lab. We do however welcome enquiries for researchers interested in applying for fellowships and other funding to

Capsid of the Sindbis virus

smFISH image of Drosophila central brain with stem cells (red) and single RNA molecules (white)