Cortical Hyperexcitability in ALS

Decoding the cell and molecular drivers of cortical hyperexcitability in ALS

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an incurable neurodegenerative disease that systematically attacks the corticomotor system. Previous research indicates that alterations in cortical neuronal excitability are strongly associated with ALS.  However, what this means for patients and drug development is not clear. The brain is a plastic organ and excitability is not a one-way process so it is hard to determine what the triggering event of altered excitability is. We have the models and expertise to overcome this. Using our inducible model of mislocalised TDP-43 (TDP-43CORTEXNLS), which expresses TDP-43 in motor neurons in the cortex and the spinal cord, we can directly interrogate the fundamental mechanisms that drive altered excitability.

This project will interrogate key neurophysiological components of neuron function to identify the cell and molecular pathways (including currents/channels) that underlie altered cortical excitability in ALS. It will involve skills relating to complex rodent transgenic models, electrophysiological techniques, neuropharmacology and viral induction of custom transgenic constructs. This project will identify the first changes in cortical motor neurons that drive altered excitability following TDP-43 mislocalisation and therefore will build a more complete picture of the core neurophysiological disruptions in ALS. This will facilitate the discovery a potent new target for therapeutic intervention.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Catherine Blizzard


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Biochemical or neuroscience knowledge
  • Interest in electrophysiology

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Dr Catherine Blizzard to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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