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Identifying new therapeutic targets and testing their potential for the treatment of chronic inflammation in arthritis.

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

Project Description

The project:
Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common forms of autoimmune disease, affecting ~1% of the global adult population. The financial burden of RA in the UK is almost £8 billion per year. Our laboratory researches the basic biology of inflammatory processes that drive arthritis progression, with a view to identifying novel therapeutic intervention strategies and disease biomarkers.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a complex disease. Patients present with several distinct forms of joint inflammation (synovitis) that influences disease progression and the response to frontline drugs. Thus, while drugs that block cytokine activity (e.g. anti-TNF) have revolutionised the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, some patients (~40%) show inadequate responses to these current drugs. We study a ‘lymphoid-rich’ form of synovitis that affects ~40% of patients and features the development of prominent clusters of immune cells called ectopic lymphoid structures (ELS) within the joint. Combining whole-tissue gene expression analysis of joint inflammation with immunodetection methods, we have identified cytokine networks essential for ELS development in experimental and clinical arthritis.

The PhD student will develop a broad understanding of autoimmune disease, an increasingly important field, relevant to many chronic inflammatory conditions, as well as modern approaches to immunotherapy. They will be trained in cross-disciplinary techniques including primary cell culture, in vivo models of arthritis, molecular biology methods (including bioinformatics, RNA-sequencing and RT-qPCR), microscopy, immunohistochemistry and histology. With access to state-of-the-art flow cytometry and imaging platforms (Wolfson Bioimaging Facility), the student will utilise these methodologies to find new ways of targeting joint inflammation to support precision medicine.

The student will join a vibrant and collaborative research environment and work across internationally recognised groups at the University of Bristol and Cardiff University interested in cytokine control of inflammation.

Dr Gareth Jones and Dr Lindsay Nicholson at the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Bristol.
Professor Simon Jones and Dr Robert Andrews at the Systems Immunity Research Institute, School of Medicine, Cardiff University.

How to apply:
You are strongly encouraged to contact the primary supervisor Dr Gareth Jones () before making an application. This project is being advertised as part of a competition for GW4 BioMed Medical Research Council (MRC) funded projects (, where 18 studentships are available. Studentships will be allocated to the highest quality candidates. Applications can be submitted, and further information found by following the link below:

Funding Notes

Candidate requirements: First class or upper second 2(i) in a relevant subject.

Funding: This is a fully funded PhD studentship


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