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Investigating the anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (MSCs) in non-tuberculous mycobacterial infection

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  • Full or part time
    Dr C O'Kane
    Dr A Krasnodembskaya
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding
    Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding

Project Description


Non-tuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) infections are increasingly commonly identified in patients with chronic lung disease. These bacteria usually do not cause disease in the healthy lung, but can complicate and perpetuate pre-existing lung disease, such as chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), CF and bronchiectasis. Current management of NTM lung disease involves multiple antibiotics for prolonged periods (of 12-18 months); such courses are difficult to tolerate, particularly in the elderly, and frequently do not eradicate the infection. There is an urgent need to identify new strategies to targets these bacteria, and reduce the tissue damage they drive. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activities. This project will investigate their capacity to kill non-tuberculous mycobacteria, within and outside of macrophages (the cells which take up and contain mycobacteria in patients). In addition, we will investigate their capacity to reduce the production of enzymes (from infected macrophages) that drive tissue destruction in the lung, and the production of inflammatory cytokines. The mechanisms regulating these effects will be defined. Finally we will investigate whether we can prime or pre-condition MSCs to increase their anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects on non-tuberculous mycobacteria. Taken together, these experiments will define whether MSCs have therapeutic potential in the management of NTM lung disease, and identify how they mediate this effect. Mechanistic studies to understand their mode of action may allow us to identify novel further methods of treating NTM.


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

The English Language Unit (ELU) offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained from the ELU

Funding Notes


DEL Research Studentships

Eligibility for both fees and maintenance (£14,057 for 2015/16, 2016/17 TBC) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK resident or those EU residents who have lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship.

Non UK residents who hold EU residency may also apply but if successful may receive fees only.

For further details re eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) please click on the following link:


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Infection and Immunity, website for further details about the Centre:

When applying, please choose 'MEDICINE' as your subject area/School.

Related Subjects

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