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Deciphering the role of macrophage in retinal fibrosis secondary to neovascular age-related macular degeneration

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  • Full or part time
    Prof H Xu
    Dr M Chen
    Prof D Fitzgerald
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) causes blindness and terribly affects the quality of life of those affected. Over 600,000 people in the UK and approximately 25 million worldwide have advanced AMD. The number of people affected by AMD in the UK is expected to rise to 1.3 million by 2050. Although there are drugs such as Lucentis, Avastin, and Eylea to treat the neovascular form of AMD, nearly 50% of them may develop macular fibrosis, for which there is no therapy. There is an urgent need to understand the disease and to develop effective therapies.

Fibrosis is a wound-healing process and inflammation is known to play critical roles although the underlying mechanism remains elusive. Our pilot data suggest that infiltrating macrophages are likely to play an important role in macular fibrosis secondary to nAMD. This project will investigate the detailed contribution of different subsets of macrophages to macular fibrosis and will explore whether reducing pro-fibrotic macrophages and enhancing anti-fibrotic macrophages can prevent the development of the disease. The knowledge is important and essential for developing effective therapies.

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to develop knowledge in molecular and cell biology, immunology, retinal patho-physiology, and will acquire a wide range of laboratory skills, including cell culture, immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy, Western Blot, real-time RT-PCR, as well as in vivo models of human disease.


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

The English Language Unit (ELU) offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained from the ELU

Funding Notes

*FUNDING CONFIRMED – Fight for Sight*

Eligibility for both fees (£4,260 (Home/EU) for 2018/19) and maintenance (£17,000 per annum) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK or EU resident.

International applicants can apply, but if successful, will have to pay the difference between 'Home/EU' and 'International' fees (£19,700) themselves.


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Experimental Medicine, website for further details about the Centre:

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