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Enhancing MHC Presentation of Antigenic Peptides for Cancer Gene Therapy

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, February 25, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

A fully funded PhD studentship, in collaboration with MedImmune, is available in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Sheffield, starting in October 2019.

Anti-cancer immune responses can be stimulated by in vivo expression of tumour antigens in dendritic cells. However, the effectiveness of such cancer gene therapies is typically limited by suboptimal MHC presentation of recombinant protein-derived peptides, and poor immunostimulatory activity of genetically modified dendritic cells. To elicit a strong immune response against a discrete tumour associated antigen, the corresponding gene sequence would ideally be specifically designed to target the recombinant protein to appropriate cellular machinery in order to optimise the quantity and diversity of target-protein derived epitopes that are presented by MHC class I and class II molecules.

This project will use a synthetic biology approach to identify gene/protein sequence features that enhance MHC display of recombinant protein-derived antigens. By completing multiple rounds of a design-build-test-learn cycle, a set of design rules will be identified that can be utilized to generate optimal gene sequences for any new dendritic cell gene therapy. This is an excellent opportunity for a postgraduate student to work on a synthetic biology project with direct bioindustrial application. It is particularly suited to students with degrees in biology, bioengineering, biotechnology, or related disciplines. The student will be based in Sheffield but will have opportunities to gain experience of world-leading biopharmaceutical R&D at MedImmune in Cambridge.

There are multiple funded studentships available in my group, if you wish to be considered for more than one opportunity please state this in your application.

Funding Notes

The project is funded for 3.5 years, starting in October 2019, with a full studentship covering University fees and stipend.

The ideal candidate will have (or expect to obtain) a first or upper second class degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline such as biology, immunology, molecular biology, biochemistry, biotechnology or bioengineering.

If English is not your first language, then you must have International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) average of 6.5 or above with at least 6.0 in each component.

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