PhD Opportunity


What controls puberty remains one of the greatest mysteries in human biology. Puberty is ultimately controlled by the brain, when signals converge to stimulate the release of a hormone called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) from the hypothalamus. Recently, the gene encoding makorin-RING finger 3 (MKRN3) was linked to regulating puberty onset. However, the precise neuronal mechanism and cellular relationships by which MKRN3 acts to suppress puberty remain unknown. There are a high number of molecular processes responsible for activating the reproductive axis at puberty including increasing sensitivity to sex steroids and regulating neuropeptide secretion in upstream neuronal networks.

This project will investigate this novel, clinically relevant target that modulates reproductive function and answer a fundamentally important biological question regarding how the brain triggers puberty and regulates fertility. The proposed project will involve neuroanatomical studies, analysis of gene expression, physiologic and pharmacologic interrogations, and studies of in vivo functional outcomes. This project will utilize transgenic animals (mice) in combination with novel gene therapy vectors that provide powerful and refined approaches to investigate the function of brain circuits in vivo. During the project, the student will gain experience in a range of advanced laboratory techniques that will include sophisticated physiological and whole animal experimentation. Training will be further enhanced by participation in GRADskills, an award-winning skills development programme for early stage researchers.

Dr Tello’s laboratory is situated in the state-of-the-art Medical and Biological Sciences Building, which is located at the heart of the University’s science campus. Dr Tello’s research interfaces cellular biology, pharmacology, and reproductive physiology with the goal of understanding and treating fertility disorders emanating from the brain and pituitary. Neuropeptides play a critical role in a number of homeostatic processes, including metabolism, body composition, sleep/wake cycles, responses to stress and ageing. The main goal of Dr Tello’s research is to understand how neuronal networks are modulated by these peptides in the brain relevant to normal development and ageing, and to understand the molecular basis of neuropeptide signalling in both fertile and disease models.

For further details on the project and informal enquiries please contact Dr Javier Tello on .

A full list of research publications and an overview of the group’s research are available via the University of St Andrews’ School of Medicine website at


This is a 3 year funded PhD studentships comprising of Home/EU tuition fees and stipend at current research council rates.