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EASTBIO Antimicrobial peptide signalling to CD8+ T cells

Project Description

CD8+ T cells are essential for robust immune responses to pathogens, particularly in the intestine.

We are interested in how antimicrobial peptides – released from neutrophils and mucosal epithelial cells – affect the differentiation of, and cytokine production by, CD8+ T cells. We have exciting data showing that these peptides increase cytokine production by CD8 T cells and increase their activation. We do not understand how this occurs, what signalling pathways are involved, which populations of CD8 T cells in particular are responding, or the role of this during intestinal inflammation.

In this project the student will perform in vitro assays on human and mouse T cells, understanding how antimicrobial peptides alter gene expression and phenotype of cells. Isolation of CD8 T cells from murine small intestine will allow determination of how these peptides affect differentiation in vivo. Finally, we will perform models of inflammatory and infectious disease to question if these peptides alter T cell exhaustion processes.

The project will be based at the University of Edinburgh Centre of Inflammation Research, in the Edinburgh Bioquarter. Techniques used in this project – on which full formal training will be provided – will include flow cytometry, PCR, immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy, cell culture, and in vivo models of disease including animal handling.

Formal training will be provided on skills related to the project in addition to lab skills – such as statistics, presentation skills, writing a thesis and time management.

Application Process:

For instructions on how to apply for an EASTBIO PhD studentship please refer to

Contact Dr Emily Gwyer Findlay before you apply.

We anticipate that our first set of interviews will be in the week commencing 10th February 2020 with awards made the following week.

Please submit all required documents directly to

The research group is located in the University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research; a world-class research environment at the interface between biological and medical science, with multidisciplinary groupings focused on inflammation, infection, disease and repair. The Centre is based within the Edinburgh Medical School in the outstanding facilities of the Queen’s Medical Research Institute at the site of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh hospital, maximising future translational opportunities.

Funding Notes

This 4 year PhD project is part of a competition funded by EASTBIO BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership. This opportunity is only open to UK nationals (or EU students who have been resident in the UK for 3+ years immediately prior to the programme start date) due to restrictions imposed by the funding body.

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