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Investigating chronic inflammatory lung disease using novel in vivo Drosophila models and human genetic epidemiology

   School of Biochemistry

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  Dr H Weavers, Prof D N Sheppard, Prof E Mahenthiralingam  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

A fully-funded 3 year PhD position is available at the University of Bristol from Summer/Autumn 2021. We are looking for motivated candidates with experience and/or interest in inflammation, tissue repair, live-imaging and genetics to join our group. The successful applicant will pursue a PhD project led by Dr Helen Weavers with the goal of understanding the molecular changes that drive persistent chronic inflammation and tissue destruction in chronic inflammatory lung conditions, as well as identify novel ways to make our airways more resilient to stress and eliminate respiratory infection. Despite decades of research in this area, chronic lung diseases remain difficult to treat, particularly with rising antimicrobial resistance.

In this project, you will use state-of-the-art in vivo approaches in Drosophila (including live 4D time-lapse imaging, genetics and transcriptomics) for target and drug discovery, as well as genetic epidemiological analysis of human data. The project will bring together a multi-disciplinary team in Bristol (Dr Helen Weavers and Prof David Sheppard) and Cardiff (Prof Eshwar Mahenthiralingam), as well as clinicians (Dr Jamie Duckers) with expertise in this area. The PhD studentship is fully-funded by the NC3Rs ( and you will receive world-class training in 3Rs areas, equipping you with a unique transferable skill set for your future career.

You will be part of a young team in a stimulating and international environment at the University of Bristol, within the Faculty of Life Sciences. Recent publications from the lab include Weavers et al., Cell (2016), Current Biology (2016; 2019) and Thuma et al., Journal of Cell Biology (2018). Informal enquiries are very welcome and can be sent to Dr Helen Weavers ([Email Address Removed]). For more details about us, please see our lab website (

The PhD position is available to start from Summer or Autumn 2021 (there is some flexibility). The prerequisite for this appointment is a BSc or equivalent degree in cell biology or a related field. Experience with Drosophila genetics is desirable but not essential. To apply, please click on the “Institution website” link on this page (on the right, underneath the “Email institution” button) and you will be directed to the University of Bristol’s “How to Apply” webpage. Please refer to the “Entry Requirements” and “Admissions statement” for the Biochemistry PhD programme here:

Please provide all of the relevant supporting documents as per the admissions statement. 

Funding Notes

This project is funded by the NC3Rs organisation. Here is a link to their website giving further details:


(1) Weavers et al. (2019) Injury activates a dynamic cytoprotective network to confer stress resilience and drive repair. Current Biology 29: 3851-3862
(2) Weavers et al., (2016) Corpse engulfment generates a molecular memory that primes the macrophage inflammatory response. Cell 165:1658-71
(3) Barnes (2013) New anti-inflammatory targets for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 12:543–559
(4) Brandsma et al (2020) Recent advances in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease pathogenesis: from disease mechanisms to precision medicine. J Pathol 250(5):624-635
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