Two PhD students in lab coats smiling and looking at some lab results

PhD scheme

PhD scheme

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

Applications for 2024 are now open. The deadline is Friday 19th January 2024.

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?

  • UKRI-equivalent stipend for 3.5 years
  • University tuition fees
  • a generous allowance for 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 multi-disciplinary 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
  • 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

How to apply and deadlines

Applications for entry in Autumn 2024 are now open.

There is a choice of six projects this year: three in Edinburgh, two in St Andrews and one in Dundee. You can apply for more than one project but if you do so, please submit separate applications. Applying for more than one project will not increase your chances of being selected. One candidate will be chosen based on their application and performance at interview. The successful candidate will then choose which project they wish to undertake. The successful candidate will then be assisted to register on the most appropriate PhD degree programme at the University where the project is hosted.

To apply, click the hyperlinked project title in the table below. This will take you to the project page on the Edinburgh Neuroscience website, from where you can click "Apply here". Download the EdNeuro.PhD Application Form (Word document) and email it when completed to Please ensure to include the unique reference number for the project (EMC-2024-1 to EMC-2024-2) in the subject line of your email. Please also carefully follow the instructions about requesting references.

Key dates

  • Closing date for applications: Friday 19th January 2024 at 17.00 GMT. Please note that the University will be closed for the festive period and we will not be able to answer queries or acknowledge receipt of applications between Wed 20th Dec and Wed 3rd Jan.
  • Shortlisted candidates will be informed if they have been selected for interview by Friday 9th February. Please avoid making enquiries about the status of your application before then.
  • Interviews will be on Monday 19th February 2024 15.00-17.00 GMT. Interviews will be on Microsoft Teams. The panel will be Prof Gareth Miles, Prof Anna Williams and Dr Paul Skehel.
  • The PhD will commence in September or October 2024. Occasionally it is possible to arrange to start earlier.


The following projects are on offer for 2024 entry:

Supervisor(s) Location Project title
Ilary Allodi St Andrews

Investigating the role of Munc 13-1 in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Seth Grant & Bhuvaneish Selvaraj Edinburgh

Repairing synapse damage in MND

Leeanne McGurk Dundee Elucidating how the poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases control the progression of motor neuron disease
Lyndsay Murray Edinburgh Investigating Strategies to Promote Axon Regeneration in Motor Neuron Disease
Chris Sibley Edinburgh Investigating the role of TDP-43 and mis-splicing in MND pathogenesis
Judith Sleeman St Andrews Analysis of the roles of protein arginine methylation in motor neuron disease using quantitative proteomics


Alumni destinations

This is what the previous Euan MacDonald Centre-funded students have gone on to do after completing their PhD.

Studentship dates
Anna Sanchez-Avila 2019-2023 Postdoc in MND resarch, SITRan, Sheffield
Emily Beswick 2019-2023 Research assistant, EDoN (Early Detection of Neurodegenerative Diseases)
Owen Kantelberg 2018-2023 Business Manager, LifeArc Technology Transfer team
Bethany Waddington 2018-2022 Lecturer, University of Glasgow
Brenda Murage 2017-2022 Analyst in the banking sector
Rachel Kline 2017-2021 Postdoc on biomarker discovery, University of Edinburgh
Claire Hetherington 2016-2023 Deputy Lab Manager, BioGrad, Liverpool
Natalie Courtney 2015-2018 Postdoc on presynaptic dysfunction in Huntington's disease, University of Edinburgh
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

Current PhD students