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  EASTBIO: Interrogating monocyte-stromal cell crosstalk in the intestine

   College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

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  Dr Calum Bain, Dr Mairi Mclean, Dr Gareth Rhys Jones  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Macrophages are one of the most abundant leucocytes in the intestinal mucosa where they play fundamental roles in maintaining tissue homeostasis and repair following injury, insult or inflammation. However, they are also implicated in the pathology of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), where they appear to drive disease. Importantly, we have shown that both pro-inflammatory macrophages and homeostatic/pro-resolution macrophages derive from the same classical monocyte precursor. While our work has established that the differentiation of monocytes occurs immediately as they enter the gut mucosa and is influenced by the presence of the microbiota, the exact factors that control monocyte differentiation remain elusive. Extravasation and migration in the mucosa will undoubtedly involve crosstalk with different structural, non-haematopoietic cells, including endothelia, pericytes, fibroblasts and epithelial cells, yet the nature of this crosstalk and how it influences monocyte differentiation is completely unexplored. Moreover, how the microbiota and its derivatives influence this crosstalk remains poorly understood.

In this project, the student will use a co-culture system to interrogate the crosstalk between monocytes and intestinal stromal cells, using both mouse and human cells, and how this might change across the life course and following inflammatory challenge. Moreover, we will determine how this might change in the context of dysbiosis. Techniques will include multi-parameter flow cytometry, confocal microscopy, cytokine/chemokine arrays and transcriptional profiling. The student will be fully trained in all these techniques as well as in statistics, presentation skills, writing skills, and data management.

Funding information and Application Process:

This 4

year PhD project is part of a competition funded by EASTBIO BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP)

This opportunity is open to UK and international students and provides funding to cover stipend and UK level tuition fees. The University of Edinburgh will cover the difference between home and international fees meaning that the EASTBIO DTP will offer fully-funded studentships to all appointees. However there is a cap on the number of international students the DTP can recruit. It is therefore important for us to know from the outset which fees status category applicants will fall under when formally applying for entry to our university.

Please refer to UKRI and Annex B of the UKRI Training Grant Terms and Conditions for full eligibility criteria.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Dr Bain. To apply, please send a cover letter outlining your previous research experience and reasons for applying, alongside an up-to-date CV to [Email Address Removed]

Download and complete our Equality,Diversity and Inclusion survey and then fill in the EASTBIO Application Form and submit it to [Email Address Removed]

Send the EASTBIOReference Form to your two academic/professional referees, and ask them to submit it to [Email Address Removed] before the application deadline.

 We anticipate that our first set of interviews will be held 7th – 11th February 2022 with awards made in the following


If you have further queries about the application/recruitment process please contact [Email Address Removed]

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.

Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26)


1. Bain CC et al. Mucosal Immunol. 2013 [PMID 22990622].
2. Bain CC, Bravo-Blas A et al. Nat. Immunol. 2014 [PMID 25151491].
3. Martin et al. Cell. 2019 [PMID: 31474370].

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 About the Project