3,331 Projects, page 1 of 667
During the past two decades, philosophers, psychologists, cognitive scientists, clinicians and neuroscientists strived to provide authoritative definitions of consciousness within a neurobiological framework. Engineers have more recently joined this quest by developing neuromorphic VLSI circuits for emulating biological functions. Yet, to date artificial systems have not been able to faithfully recreate natural attributes such as true processing locality (memory and computation) and complexity (10^10 synapses per cm2), preventing the achievement of a long-term goal: the creation of autonomous cognitive systems. This project aspires to develop experimental platforms capable of perceiving, learning and adapting to stimuli by leveraging on the latest developments of five leading European institutions in neuroscience, nanotechnology, modeling and circuit design. The non-linear dynamics as well as the plasticity of the newly discovered memristor are shown to support Spike-based- and Spike-Timing-Dependent-Plasticity (STDP), making this extremely compact device an excellent candidate for realizing large-scale self-adaptive circuits; a step towards "autonomous cognitive systems". The intrinsic properties of real neurons and synapses as well as their organization in forming neural circuits will be exploited for optimising CMOS-based neurons, memristive grids and the integration of the two into realtime biophysically realistic neuromorphic systems. Finally, the platforms would be tested with conventional as well as abstract methods to evaluate the technology and its autonomous capacity.
PhD project to be defined during 1st taught year of the programme.
In a collaboration between the University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), and Imperial College, the project will study the detection of ocean pollutants like CO2 and methane by designing, fabricating and testing sensors for monitoring their unique spectral absorption fingerprints in order to understand their evolution and life cycle from the seabed to the atmosphere and vice versa. The project will be based at the ORC, where silicon chips will be fabricated in state-of-the-art clean rooms, but will have the opportunity to conduct experiments at the NOC's world-class facilities, where sensors will be integrated in submarines and gliders at the Marine Autonomous Robotics centre.
This multidisciplinary project will be at the interface of the chemical and biological sciences, and will combine state-of-the-art synthetic organic chemistry with biochemical, analytical and biophysical methods. The project will focus on the development of novel biocompatible reagents and methodologies for the controlled chemical modification of peptides and proteins, and employ these methodologies to study the properties and function of key protein post-translational modifications (PTMs) using biochemical/biophysical assays. We are particularly interested in a range of PTMs resulting from cellular oxidative stress, which are currently impossible to study using conventional techniques. On the longer term, the new reagents and methods will unlock exciting opportunities for studying the so far elusive function of these PTMs in human biology, with potential implications in drug discovery and the treatment of diseases resulting from unregulated cellular redox events.
Proteins, DNA and RNA are the active machines of the cells which make up living organisms, and are collectively known as macromolecules. They carry out all of the functions that sustain life, from metabolism through replication to the exchange of information between a cell and its environment. They are coded for by a 'blueprint' in the form of the DNA sequence in the genome, which describes how to make them as linear strings of building blocks. In order to function, however, most macromolecules fold into a precise 3D structure, which in turn depends primarily on the sequence of building blocks from which they are made. Knowledge of the molecule's 3D structure allows us both to understand its function, and to design chemicals to interfere with it. Due to advances in molecular biology, a number of projects, including the Human Genome Project, have led to the determination of the complete DNA sequences of many organisms, from which we can now read the linear blueprints for many macromolecules. As yet, however, the 3D structure cannot be predicted from knowledge of the sequence alone. One way to "see" macromolecules, and so to determine their 3D structure, involves initially crystallising the molecule under investigation, and subsequently imaging it with suitable radiation. Macromolecules are too small to see with normal light, and so a different approach is required. With an optical microscope we cannot see objects which are smaller than the wavelength of light, roughly 1 millionth of a metre: Atoms are about 1000 times smaller than this. However X-rays have a wavelength about the same as the size of the atoms. For this reason, in order to resolve the atomic detail of macromolecular structure, we image them with X-rays rather than with visible light. The process of imaging the structures of macromolecules that have been crystallised is known as X-ray crystallography. X- ray crystallography is like using a microscope to magnify objects that are too small to be seen with visible light. Unfortunately X-ray crystallography is complicated because, unlike a microscope, there is no lens system for X-rays and so additional information and complex computation are required to reconstruct the final image. This information may come from known protein structures using the Molecular Replacement (MR) method, or from other sources including Electron Microscopy (EM). Once the structure is known, it is easier to pinpoint how macromolecules contribute to the living cellular machinery. Pharmaceutical research uses this as the basis for designing drugs to turn the molecules on or off when required. Drugs are designed to interact with the target molecule to either block or promote the chemical processes which they perform within the body. Other applications include protein engineering and carbohydrate engineering. The aim of this project is to improve the key computational tools needed to extract a 3D structure from X-ray and electron diffraction experiments. It will provide continuing support to a Collaborative Computing Project (CCP4 first established in 1979), which has become one of the leading sources of software for this task. The project will help efficient and effective use to be made of the synchrotrons that make the X-rays that are used in most crystallographic experiments but also extend to use of electron microscopes which have gained much recent publicity with the Nobel prize being awarded to researchers from this field. It will provide more powerful tools to allow users to exploit information from known protein structures when the match to the unknown structure is very poor. Finally, it will allow structures to be solved, even when poor quality and very small crystals are obtained.