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Impact of diabetes on macrophage control of fungal allergic inflammation - PhD in Medical Studies (Research England DTP)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr PC Cook
    Prof N G Morgan
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Individuals with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing asthma, but the reasons behind this are unclear. This PhD project brings together experts in mycology, immunology and diabetes to determine whether alterations in nutrient availability in diabetes governs activity of lung immune cells and subsequent susceptibility to fungal-asthma.

Typically, the average person in the UK breathes in thousands of fungal spores everyday (particularly from Aspergillus). In some people, innate immune cells in the lung, especially macrophages, can start to trigger anti-spore allergic responses that can lead to asthma. Fungal driven asthma accounts for 50% of the 500,000 asthma related deaths every year. There is increasing evidence suggests that there is a strong link between people with diabetes and the development of asthma but, despite this, there has been little research to understand how Aspergillus regulates the onset of asthma or how this process is altered in patients with diabetes.

We have recently found that macrophages in the lung are much less biologically active than those found at other tissue sites (Svedberg et al, 2019, Nature Immunology). We propose this is due to the unique environment in the lung, which confers on them a lower energy status leading to an overall reduction in metabolic activity. We hypothesise that the energy state of innate immune cells in the lung is regulated by the reduced supply of nutrients in the airway, and that this can become further disrupted in diabetes thereby enhancing the establishment of fungal asthma. The aims of this studentship are to explore how fungal asthma develops and to provide novel insights into how diabetes alters this process. The ultimate goal is to enable the effective design of novel strategies to treat and reduce the risk of asthma and fungal lung disease especially in patients with diabetes.

The successful student would be trained in state-of-the-art immunology techniques, including multi-parameter flow cytometry; whole section image analysis using AI technologies; mycology culture and transgenics; nutrient and metabolite analysis. They will also have the opportunity to work with in vivo mouse models, in vitro cell culture models and human tissue.

Funding Notes

This is a 3 year fully-funded PhD studentship. Stipends are at an enhanced rate of £17,059 (2020-21) and all Home/EU tuition fees are covered. Funds will also be available for travel and research costs.

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