G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest family of cell surface receptors and are involved in the regulation of nearly every mammalian cellular response. Approximately 34% of all currently approved drugs target GPCRs, making these receptors the most successful drug target in history. Our research is focused on the structure and function of GPCRs and understanding the signalling pathways that are important for different physiological and pathophysiological responses. We employ wide-ranging and multi-disciplinary approaches to take a ‘molecule to behaviour’ approach to understand, validate and then translate therapeutic opportunities by targeting trans-plasma membrane and intracellular signalling pathways. We identify unique small molecule ligands that modulate cellular signalling cascades and exploit these to define both underpinning biology and their effects on disease progression and remission.
We have driven understanding and therapeutic validation of previously poorly understood and ‘hard to target’ G protein-coupled receptors that are activated by metabolic intermediates, particularly fatty acids of varying chain length. We are established as ‘world-leading’ in areas at the interface so created between metabolism and immunity. This has resulted in ‘spin out’ in 2015 of the company Caldan Therapeutics, which garnered £4.5 million in Series A funding, and in Milligan being a finalist in the 2016 BBSRC ‘Innovator of the Year’ competition. Moreover, our expertise in this area has resulted in the establishment of new links to companies including Heptares Therapeutics and Galapagos NV, as well as consolidating links to the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, resulting in enhanced funding and joint publications.
By linking small molecule ligands, the new wealth of information on structural characteristics of G protein-coupled receptors, and a prion-based model of neurodegenerative disease that displays impaired cognition, Tobin and Bradley have unequivocally established that selective activation of the M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor not only improves cognition, a key requirement for any new therapy designed to treat the cognitive decline associated with progression of Alzheimers dementia, but also may actually slow neurodegenerative progression. This work is linked directly to studies being conducted by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. An approach within these studies of generating mouse transgenic ‘knock-in’ lines of receptors modified to act as ‘Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs’ has not only been integral to these studies but has inspired the group to broaden this approach to the type of ‘hard to target’ G protein-coupled receptors, a concept developed and reduced to practice by Hudson and Milligan for free fatty acid receptor 2.
Our PhD programmes offer training in all aspects of molecular pharmacology and our large internationally recognised research group have significant expertise in pharmacological analyses, cell signalling, drug discovery and use of a extensive range of transgenic and disease mouse models to define the physiological functions and therapeutic potential of specific GPCR subtypes.
Duration: 1 year full-time / 2 years part-time
Our MScR includes both taught and research elements. You will be required to undertake 60 to 90 credits worth of taught courses as well as independent study which represents some contribution to knowledge.
Thesis length: 18,000-30,000 words (including references, bibliography and appendices)
Awarded or expected 1st class or high upper 2nd class BSc degree.
English Language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English.
Fees and funding
- £4,320 UK/EU (to be confirmed by UKRI)
- £21,020 outside EU
Prices are based on the annual fee for full-time study. Fees for part-time study are half the full-time fee.
Additional fees for all students:
- Re-submission by a research student £500
- Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,250
- Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £320
- Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £730
- Research students registered as non-supervised Thesis Pending students (50% refund will be granted if the student completes thesis within the first six months of the period) £300
Depending on the nature of the research project, some students will be expected to pay a bench fee (also known as research support costs) to cover additional costs. The exact amount will be provided in the offer letter.
A 10% discount is available to University of Glasgow alumni. This includes graduates and those who have completed a Junior Year Abroad, Exchange programme or International Summer School at the University of Glasgow. The discount is applied at registration for students who are not in receipt of another discount or scholarship funded by the University. No additional application is required.
- £4,260 UK/EU
- £20,150 outside EU
Prices are based on the annual fee for full-time study. Fees for part-time study are half the full-time fee.
Additional fees for all students:
- Submission by a research student £480
- Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,200
- Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £300
- Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £680
- Research students registered as non-supervised Thesis Pending students (50% refund will be granted if the student completes thesis within the first six months of the period) £270
Depending on the nature of the research project, some students will be expected to pay a bench fee to cover additional costs. The exact amount will be provided in the offer letter.
The College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences Graduate School provides a vibrant, supportive and stimulating environment for all our postgraduate students. We aim to provide excellent support for our postgraduates through dedicated postgraduate convenors, highly trained supervisors and pastoral support for each student.
Our overarching aim is to provide a research training environment that includes:
- provision of excellent facilities and cutting edge techniques
- training in essential research and generic skills
- excellence in supervision and mentoring
- interactive discussion groups and seminars
- an atmosphere that fosters critical cultural policy and research analysis
- synergy between research groups and areas
- extensive multidisciplinary and collaborative research
- extensive external collaborations both within and beyond the UK
- a robust generic skills programme including opportunities in social and commercial training
If you study with us, you will join a community of 26 postgraduate taught and 150 postgraduate research students. Our institute brings together world-leading basic, applied, clinical and translational researchers to study infection with a focus on the viral, parasitic and bacterial pathogens of both humans and animals, and immunology and inflammation with a focus on chronic inflammatory diseases.
Despite the continual development of new therapies, antibiotics and vaccines, chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases still pose persistent health threats. We aim to:
- understand the basic science of the immune systems and how the immune system can inturn affect disease outcome understand the biology of parasites, viruse and bacteria and the interactions with their hosts, that in turn leads to high levels of infectious diseases worldwide
- develop therapies (drugs and vaccines) targeted on these processes
- explore new treatments and strategies in clinical and translational medicine
How to apply
Identify potential supervisors
All Postgraduate Research Students are allocated a supervisor who will act as the main source of academic support and research mentoring. You may want to identify a potential supervisor and contact them to discuss your research proposal before you apply. Please note, even if you have spoken to an academic staff member about your proposal you still need to submit an online application form.
You can find relevant academic staff members with our staff research interests search.
Check our entry requirements
Entry requirements for postgraduate research vary.
All Postgraduate Research applicants should normally possess one or more of the following:
- First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree or equivalent qualification (2:1 in the case of UK Research Council supported students).
- In some cases a Masters qualification or equivalent is required
Candidates whose first language is not English must show evidence of appropriate competence in English. You can find the specific requirements on our international students pages.
Please check the relevant entry in the Research opportunities A-Z to find out any specific entry requirements and application documents.
Gather your documents
Before applying please make sure you gather the following supporting documentation:
- Final or current degree transcripts including grades (and an official translation, if needed) – scanned copy in colour of the original document
- Degree certificates (and an official translation, if needed): scanned copy in colour of the original document
- Two references on headed paper (academic and/or professional).
- Research proposal, CV, samples of written work as per requirements for each subject area.
To complete your application we will need two references (one must be academic the other can be academic or professional).
There are two options for you to submit references as part of your application. You can upload a document as part of your application or you can enter in your referee’s contact details and we will contact them to request a reference.
Option 1 – Uploading as part of the application form
Your references should be on official headed paper. These should also be signed by the referee. You can then upload these via theOnline Application form with the rest your documents to complete the application process.
Please be aware that documents must not exceed 5MB in size and therefore you may have to upload your documents separately. The online system allow you to upload supporting documents only in PDF format. For a free PDF writer go to www.pdfforge.org.
Option 2 - Entering contact details as part of the application form
If you enter your referees contact details including email on the application form we will email them requesting they submit a reference once you have submitted the application form. When the referee responds and sends a reference you will be sent an email to confirm the university has received this.
After submitting your application form
Use our Applicant Self Service uploading documents function to submit a new reference. We can also accept confidential references direct to firstname.lastname@example.org, from the referee’s university or business email account.
Once you have all your supporting documentation you can apply through our Online Application System
I've applied. What next?
If you have any other trouble accessing Applicant Self-Service, please see Application Troubleshooting/FAQs.
If you are requested to upload further documents
Log into the Applicant Self Service and scroll down to the Admissions Section. The screenshot below indicates the section on the page, and the specific area you should go to, highlighted in red:
Documents must be uploaded in .jpg, .jpeg or .pdf format and must not exceed 5MB in size. There is a maximum 10MB upload size for all documents with the application.
Once a decision has been made regarding your application the Research Admissions Office will contact you by email.
If you are made an unconditional offer
You can accept your offer through the Applicant-Self-Service by clicking on the ‘Accept/Decline link’ for your chosen programme under the ‘Admissions Section’ at the bottom of the Applicant Self Service screen. You can access the Applicant Self Service by using the link, username and password you used to apply and selecting the “Self Service” button below your application.
Please make sure you accept your unconditional offer within 4 weeks of receiving your offer. If you are an international student your CAS will not be issued until you have accepted an unconditional offer.
If you are made a conditional offer
If you accept a conditional offer then the offer status on Applicant-Self-Service will change to ‘incomplete’ to indicate that the application is incomplete until such time as all the conditions are met.
Your offer letter will list all the conditions that apply to your offer and you can upload the required document(s) through Applicant Self Service. If you have met the conditions satisfactorily, you will automatically be sent an unconditional offer.
If your application is unsuccessful
If your application is unsuccessful then we will send you an email to inform you of this which will outline the reason why we have been unable to offer you a place on this particular programme. Please note that your application status will be updated to 'Cancelled' on Applicant Self Service if the offer is rejected.
Deferring your offer
If you want to defer your start date, please contact us directly at email@example.com. We need authorisation from your supervisor before we confirm your request to defer. Once we have this we will contact you by email to confirm.
How to register
After you have accepted an unconditional offer you will receive an email nearer to the start of your studies to tell you how to register online using the University's MyCampus website, the University’s student information system. That email will provide you with your personal login details and the website address. Please ensure that your email address is kept up to date as all correspondence is sent via email. You can update your email address through the Applicant Self Service Portal under the Personal Information section.
- If you have any questions about your application before you apply: contact our College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences Graduate School
- If you have any questions after you have submitted your application: contact our Admissions team
- Any references may be submitted by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Advice on visa, immigrations and the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) can be found on our International student pages