PhD Studentship in Pharmacology: Pharmacological effect of psychedelics drugs in chronic pain

Vacancy Reference Number
Closing Date
26 Apr 2024
Funding covers full tuition fees plus UKRI stipend (£19,237 pa for 2024/25)
4 years

Project Overview

Psychedelic drugs, such as dimethyl tryptamine (DMT), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin (originally derived from mushrooms) cause a profound alteration of perception and mood and are being investigated clinically to treat a range of neuropsychiatric disorders. Recent work by Maria Maiarù and Gary Stephens at the University of Reading, in collaboration with Compass Pathways, a biotechnology company dedicated to innovations in mental health care, has revealed that psilocybin also has novel effects in preclinical models of pain.

This project, co-funded and co-supervised by Compass Pathways (Dr Maqsood Ahmed), will build on previous work and investigate the mechanisms of action of different psychedelics in preclinical models of pain. The successful applicant will benefit from extensive training and support from the research groups of Maria Maiarù and Gary Stephens in a variety of cutting-edge techniques including in vivo preclinical models, electrophysiology, molecular biology, experimental design and data analysis. Moreover, the candidate will join the vibrant Pain Research Reading group which includes academics from pharmacy, neuroscience and psychology and clinicians from the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Through the collaboration with Compass Pathways, the successful applicant will gain experience in drug discovery and translational neuroscience as well as a broader, industry perspective to their research. This studentship will include an opportunity to spend time at Compass Pathways to gain experience and insights into the biotechnology industry.

Essential Criteria

  • Applicants should hold or expect to gain a minimum of a 2:1 bachelor’s degree or equivalent in pharmacology, biomedical science, or equivalent subject.

  • Due to restrictions on the funding this studentship is open to UK applicants.

Funding Details

  • Starts: October 2024
  • 4 year award
  • Funding covers full tuition fees plus UKRI stipend (£19,237 pa for 2024/25)

How to apply

To apply click “Apply for a Programme”, create your account, and use the link sent by email to start the application process. During the application process please select PhD in Physiology and Pharmacology

*Important notes*

  1. Please quote the reference ‘DRC24-005’ in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding Section of your on-line application.
  2. If the application system prompts you to submit a research proposal, please paste in the project title and move on to the next step in the application.

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 Maiarù ( and/or Prof Gary Stephens (