Two researchers in a lab looking at some data

PhD scheme

PhD scheme

Information about our PhD scheme, how to apply, and details of our current students.

Supporting postgraduates is a key part of the Euan MacDonald Centre’s mission. We are passionate about encouraging, training and equipping the MND researchers of the future.

The Centre has an active community of postgraduate students and post-doctoral researchers who benefit from sharing knowledge with other MND researchers and people living with MND by attending Centre events and MND-related conferences.

Euan MacDonald Centre funded PhDs

Through the generosity of our donors and fundraisers, the Centre normally funds one or two non-clinical PhD studentship per year.

Applications for Centre-funded PhDs normally open in the Autumn of each year for programmes starting the following September.

A range of projects is offered by Centre Principal Investigators, based at a University in Scotland. Project choices usually include basic (laboratory), clinical and social science.

The best student is chosen on the basis of application, interview and references, and then chooses the project he or she is most interested in.


What does the studentship include?

  • RCUK stipend for three years
  • UK/EU University fees
  • travel and consumables
  • oversight by a second supervisor and thesis committee
  • access to all training and support available to postgraduates at the chosen University

An enriched experience

Because Euan MacDonald Centre funded students become part of our wide-ranging network, we are able to offer additional experiences and training that include opportunities to:

  • shadow an MND Nurse Specialist, meet people with MND, and attend an MND clinic and/or home visit
  • undertake a short placement with a Euan MacDonald Centre Principal Investigator of a different specialty
  • attend and present at six-monthly seminar afternoons featuring a wide range of Centre research
  • obtain bursaries to present data at national and international MND-related meetings
  • gain experience in public engagement by participating in open days and MND Awareness events.
  • access the Centre’s communications pipeline to promote the student’s research

Sample projects

These projects were offered for 2019 entry.

1st supervisor Second Supervisor Location Project title
Tom Gillingwater Simon Parson Edinburgh

Developing the next generation of therapies for the childhood motor neuron disease, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)

Simon Parson Tom Gillingwater Aberdeen

Does human systemic cardiovascular pathology negatively affect treatment outcomes in SMA patients?

Gillian Hunter Tom Gillingwater Glasgow Caledonian

Investigating the role of histone ubiquitination in spinal muscular atrophy

Chris Henstridge Tara Spires-Jones Dundee

Synaptic localisation and transfer of TDP-43 in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Sharon Abrahams Sharon Mulhern Edinburgh

Cognitive impairment, decision making and mental capacity in Motor Neuron Disease

Lyndsay Murray Tom Gillingwater Edinburgh

Investigating modifiers transcripts in models of motor neuron disease

Martyn Pickersgill Sarah Cunningham-Burley Edinburgh

Why (not) participate? An international comparative study of people with MND’s experiences of, and perspectives on, participating in research 

How to apply and deadlines


If you would like to browse other University of Edinburgh neuroscience projects, please visit the EdNeuro.PhD gateway.

If you have any questions please Contact us.


Alumni destinations

Studentship dates
Destination upon completion
Hannah Shorrock 2014-2017 postdoc on SCA8 at Centre for NeuroGenetics, University of Florida
Chris Crockford 2014-2017 Management/research support in the third sector
Natalie Courtney 2015-2018 postdoc on presynaptic dysfunction in Huntington's disease, University of Edinburgh

Current PhD students