Brain-specific immune responses to fungal pathogens


   Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy

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  Dr R Drummond  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

We are seeking a talented and motivated student with a passion for research in immunology, infectious disease and medical mycology to join the Fungal Infection Group led by Dr Rebecca Drummond (https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/profiles/immunology-immunotherapy/drummond-rebecca.aspx).

Applicants should have a first or upper second-class degree in a relevant scientific discipline, and who are self-funded or have typically applied for, or secured funding for their studies from their government, employer or associated charitable organisations.

RESEARCH IN THE FUNGAL INFECTION GROUP

Our research group is part of the Institute of Immunology & Immunotherapy at the University of Birmingham. We also affiliate and work with colleagues in the Institute of Microbiology & Infection. We are interested in organ-specific immune responses, especially in the brain. We aim to determine how tissue-resident immune cells (called macrophages) respond to fungal invasion and the impact of these responses on pathogenesis and disease outcome. We also have a key interest in fungal responses to the microenvironment within different host niches, and the mechanisms regulating fungal virulence and infection.

We have ongoing projects examining:

• How to identify different subsets of tissue-resident macrophages in the brain and their inflammatory functions during infection.

• The mechanisms regulating fungal acquisition of nutrients that fuel virulence in the brain.

• Imaging of fungal invasion of the brain using advanced microscopy techniques.

• The intersection between innate and adaptive immune responses in the fungal-infected brain.

We use a variety of methods in our lab, including murine models of fungal meningitis, flow cytometry, light-sheet microscopy, systems biology approaches (e.g. RNAseq, metabolomics), cell culture models and molecular biology (PCR, western blotting). A PhD project, using these approaches in answering translationally relevant research questions is available to a self-funded or scholarship-funded graduate interested in joining our laboratory.

APPLICATION ROUTES

Self-funded or scholarship-funded graduates interested in joining the team can select one of 3 different routes for undertaking a PhD in the field of Immunology and Immunotherapy.

Applicants with research experience and/or Master’s degree should apply directly to the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy for either a 3 or 4 year full-time PhD – https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/research/med/immunology-immunotherapy.aspx.

Applicants seeking additional research experience or who have yet to complete a Master’s degree should apply to the 4 year Integrated Doctoral Training Programme in Life Sciences for Health, which combined a MRes and PhD – https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/pgr/idtp/index.aspx.

Applicants will need to submit the following documentation during the application process.

• Detailed CV, including your nationality and country of birth;

• Covering letter highlighting your research experience/capabilities and why you wish to undertake a PhD in the team;

• Names and addresses of two referees;

• Copies of your degree certificates with transcripts written in English;

• Evidence of your proficiency in the English language, if applicable.

• Evidence of scholarship application/funding or independent funding.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The University of Birmingham offers pre-sessional English Language courses through the Birmingham International Academy – https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/international/bia/presessional/index.aspx

For additional information on postgraduate studying at the University of Birmingham please click - https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/study/postgraduate

For additional information on research at the College of Medical and Dental Sciences please click – https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/mds/index.aspx

For additional information on research in the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy please click – https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/immunology-immunotherapy/index.aspx

Overseas graduates require IELTs of 6.5 overall.

Applying directly to the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy for either a 3 or 4 year full-time PhD – https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/research/med/immunology-immunotherapy.aspx

Applying to the 4 year Integrated Doctoral Training Programme in Life Sciences for Health, which combined a MRes and PhD – https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/pgr/idtp/index.aspx.

Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

Applicants are invited from self-funded or scholarship-funded graduates ONLY.

Applicants will be self-funded or will have typically applied for, or secured funding for their studies from their government, employer or associated charitable organisations.

References

R.A. Drummond. What fungal CNS infections can teach us about neuroimmunology and CNS-specific immunity. Seminars in Immunology. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smim.2023.101751

Mohamed, S.H, M.S. Fu, S. Hain et al… and R.A. Drummond. Microglia protect fungi against copper starvation and promote brain infection. Biorxiv (pre-print). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.09.07.506901

Drummond, R.A., J.V. Desai, E. Ricotta et al. Long-term Antibiotic Exposure Promotes Mortality After Systemic Fungal Infection by Driving Lymphocyte Dysfunction and Systemic Escape of Commensal Bacteria. Cell Host & Microbe, 2022. 30, 1-14

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