PhD Studentship in Pharmacology: Investigating the analgesic properties of psilocybin in preclinical models of chronic pain.

University of Reading

PhD Studentship in Pharmacology

Project title: Investigating the analgesic properties of psilocybin in preclinical models of chronic pain.

Department/School: SCFP/Pharmacy

Supervisors: Dr Maria Maiarú and Dr Francesco Tamagnini

Project Overview:   

Psychedelic drugs, such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin (originally derived from mushrooms) cause a profound alteration of perception and mood. However, recent work has shown that such psychedelic drugs have beneficial effects when used in patients with major depressive disorders, those with post-traumatic stress disorder and may also alleviate conditions such as pain and inflammation. We will use a number of preclinical models of pain (those due to nerve injury, inflammation or the drug that treat cancer). Objectives of this research are to 1) develop novel and sensitive behavioural assays for identifying the constellation of symptoms of chronic pain states in animal and 2) to use state-of-the-art two-photon calcium imaging to screen the effect of psilocybin on brain areas involved in pain processing. Applicants should have an interest in working with preclinical models and in drug discovery, but all techniques will be taught.

Successful candidate will benefit from full technological and academic support from the research groups of Maria Maiarù and Francesco Tamagnini, as well as access to the vast array of expertise and tools provided by close collaborators across the country. Successful candidate will acquire a broad range of skills including in vivo techniques, brain imaging, experimental design and data analysis. Moreover, the candidate will join the vibrant recently launched Pain Research Reading which includes academics from pharmacy, neuroscience and psychology and clinicians from the Royal Berkshire Hospital.


  • Applicants should hold or expect to gain a minimum of a 2:1 Bachelor Degree or equivalent in biomedical or pharmacy science or equivalent subject.
  • Due to restrictions on the funding this studentship is open to UK applicants.

Funding Details:   

  • Starts: 3rd July 2023
  • 3-year award
  • Funding covers full UK tuition fees plus UKRI stipend.

How to apply:  

To apply click at  create your account and use the link sent by email to start the application process.   During the application process please select the PhD in Pharmacology

*Important notes*

  • Please quote the reference ‘GS22-143’ in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding Section of your on-line application. 
  • When you are prompted by the online application system to upload a research proposal, please omit this step as the project is already defined.
  • Application Deadline: 

    4th June 2023

    Further Enquiries:  

    Please note that, where a candidate is successful in being awarded funding, this will be confirmed via a formal studentship award letter; this will be provided separately from any Offer of Admission and will be subject to standard checks for eligibility and other criteria. 

    For further details please contact  Dr Maria Maiarú ([email protected] ) and/or Dr Francesco Tamagnini ([email protected] ).

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