Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Two fully-funded PhDs: Dr. Gary Brennan, FutureNeuro

FutureNeuro is a new national research centre focused on chronic and rare neurological diseases, funded by Science Foundation Ireland and based at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

FutureNeuro is a new national research centre focused on chronic and rare neurological diseases. Led by Prof. David Henshall, FutureNeuro brings together multidisciplinary scientific teams with clinicians and industry to deliver advances in diagnostic medicine, personalized and network therapeutics, cross-linked by a national e-Health infrastructure platform that is disease-focused. The mission of FutureNeuro is to accelerate discoveries on genetic diagnosis and advanced molecular treatments supported by enabling e-health technology for chronic and rare neurological diseases. Building initially on internationally recognized strengths in epilepsy and motor neuron disease research, the Centre aims to develop additional research programmes in other chronic and rare neurological diseases.

Overall purpose of this position

The successful candidate will join the team of Dr. Gary Brennan working on molecular mechanisms controlling gene expression, biomarkers and treatments for Epilepsy. Recent research by the team has focused on how small noncoding RNAs called microRNAs control aberrant gene expression in the epileptic brain and explored targeting these and their biomarker potential. The purpose of the current roles is to drive the development of new, clinically relevant models of febrile seizures and febrile status epilepticus and identify the molecular mechanisms by which these insults can lead to cognitive deficits and epilepsy in later life. One PhD position will focus on the role of the epigenome while the other position will focus on the post-transcriptional mechanisms, including microRNAs. Both projects will employ techniques such as clinically relevant in vivo models of prolonged febrile seizures, RNA-sequencing, ChIP-sequencing, viral-mediated gene silencing and other standard molecular biology techniques. Opportunity will be provided to both students to present their data at national and international meetings. The students will work within the SFI FutureNeuro research centre of excellence and will work closely with basic scientists, industry collaborators as well as clinicians.  

 Examples of recent research by the group

  • Brennan et al., Dual and opposing roles of microRNA-124 in epilepsy are mediated through inflammatory and NRSF-dependent gene networks. Cell Rep 15; 2402-12 (2016)
  • Miller-Delaney et al., Differential DNA methylation profiles of coding and non-coding genes define hippocampal sclerosis in human temporal lobe epilepsy. Brain 138, 616-631 (2015)
  • Brennan and Henshall., MicroRNAs in the pathophysiology of epilepsy. Neurosci Lett 667:47-52 (2018)

Eligibility criteria


  • At least an upper second class (2.1) honours degree in cell and molecular biology, neuroscience or similar.
  • Good communication skills. 
  • Strong organisational and administrative skills.
  • Ability to work on one’s own initiative as well as in a multidisciplinary, team environment.
  • Willingness to undertake training and career development.
  • English language requirements for candidates who do not speak English as their first language: an IELTS score of 6.5 or above. 
  • Desirable: » Previous laboratory research experience. Proven ability to work independently and as an effective team member.

Application process

The closing date for application is Friday, 4 January 2019 at 5pm GMT. The application should include:

  • a cover letter outlining your interest in and suitability for the position.
  • an up-to-date CV including contact details for two referees.

Applications to: Dr Gary Brennan (


Note: this Job Description may be subject to change to reflect the evolving requirements of the Department and RCSI in developing healthcare leaders who make a difference worldwide.

RCSI is an equal opportunities employer.

Mentors Dr Gary Brennan