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  Liver immunology, regeneration and viral infection projects (SARS-CoV-2, hepatitis viruses)

   Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy

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  Dr Z Stamataki  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

We are seeking talented, motivated students with a passion for immunology research to join the Viral and Liver Immunology group led by Dr Zania Stamataki. ( Applicants should have a first or upper second-class degree in a relevant scientific discipline, and who are self-funded or have typically applied for, or secured funding for their studies from their government, employer or associated charitable organisations.

Viral and Liver Immunology Group

Our team is part of the wider Centre for Liver and Gastrointestinal Research within the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy at the University of Birmingham. We are interested in understanding viral tropism and the implications of infection in human tissues with a focus on the liver in health, in chronic inflammation and in cancer. We have discovered novel biological processes leading to cell-in-cell structures in hepatocytes, and we are studying aspects of their immunology, cell biology and tumour biology to design new therapies for patients.

Broadly speaking we have three main areas of interest in liver health and disease:

• Viral infection

• Immune regulation

• Cell-in-cell structures (enclysis, efferocytosis)

We have ongoing projects examining:

• the mechanism of enclysis, the engulfment and deletion of live regulatory T cells by hepatocytes, in autoimmune liver disease, viral hepatitis, fatty liver injury and cancer

• the clearance of necrotic cells by hepatocytes, to accelerate liver regeneration in acute and chronic injury of multiple aetiologies

• the impact and persistence of acute and chronic viral infection in the liver

You will join a dynamic research group of scientists and clinicians that thrive in translational projects and value collaboration. We combine imaging novel in vitro, multi-cellular culture systems incorporating cell lines and primary human cells (from healthy individuals or patients), with systems biology approaches to large omics datasets (e.g., RNAseq, metabolomic or proteomic data) and murine models of acute injury or inflammation. We have access to state-of-the art containment level 3 facilities suitable to study infectious SARS-CoV-2 and Hepatitis viruses. We are based at the college of Medical and Dental Sciences, adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the biggest solid organ transplant centre in Europe. We have access to well-characterised patient cohorts and study human tissue models representing authentic human disease settings.

If you are interested in joining our team, please contact [Email Address Removed] in the first instance to discuss project options.

Applicants will need to submit the following documentation during the application process.

• Detailed CV, including your nationality and country of birth;

• Covering letter highlighting your research experience/capabilities and why you wish to undertake a PhD in the team;

• Names and addresses of two referees;

• Copies of your degree certificates with transcripts written in English;

• Evidence of your proficiency in the English language, if applicable.

• Evidence of scholarship application/funding or independent funding.


University of Birmingham offers pre-sessional English Language courses through the Birmingham International Academy –

For additional information on postgraduate studying at University of Birmingham please click -

For additional information on research at the College of Medical and Dental Sciences please click –

For additional information on research in the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy please click –

Applying directly to the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy for either a 3 or 4 year full-time PhD –

Applying to the 4 year Integrated Doctoral Training Programme in Life Sciences for Health, which combined a MRes and PhD –


Sudden onset hepatitis in children. Kelly DA, Stamataki Z.

Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2022 Sep;19(9):553-554. doi: 10.1038/s41575-022-00652-4.

Targeting Enclysis in Liver Autoimmunity, Transplantation, Viral Infection and Cancer.

Aghabi YO, Yasin A, Kennedy JI, Davies SP, Butler AE, Stamataki Z.

Front Immunol. 2021 Apr 19;12:662134. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.662134.

Cell-in-Cell Structures in the Liver: A Tale of Four E's.

Davies SP, Terry LV, Wilkinson AL, Stamataki Z.

Front Immunol. 2020 May 13;11:650. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.00650.

Hepatocytes Delete Regulatory T Cells by Enclysis, a CD4+ T Cell Engulfment Process.

Davies SP, Reynolds GM, Wilkinson AL, Li X, Rose R, Leekha M, Liu YS, Gandhi R, Buckroyd E, Grove J, Barnes NM, May RC, Hubscher SG, Adams DH, Huang Y, Qureshi O, Stamataki Z.

Cell Rep. 2019 Nov 5;29(6):1610-1620.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.09.068.

The human liver microenvironment shapes the homing and function of CD4+ T-cell populations.

Wiggins BG, Pallett LJ, Li X, Davies SP, Amin OE, Gill US, Kucykowicz S, Patel AM, Aliazis K, Liu YS, Reynolds GM, Davidson BR, Gander A, Luong TV, Hirschfield GM, Kennedy PTF, Huang Y, Maini MK, Stamataki Z.

Gut. 2022 Jul;71(7):1399-1411. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2020-323771.

SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Responses in Individuals with Antibody Deficiency: Findings from the COV-AD Study.

Shields AM, Faustini SE, Hill HJ, Al-Taei S, Tanner C, Ashford F, Workman S, Moreira F, Verma N, Wagg H, Heritage G, Campton N, Stamataki Z, Klenerman P, Thaventhiran JED, Goddard S, Johnston S, Huissoon A, Bethune C, Elcombe S, Lowe DM, Patel SY, Savic S, Burns SO, Richter AG; COV-AD consortium.

J Clin Immunol. 2022 Jul;42(5):923-934. doi: 10.1007/s10875-022-01231-7.

Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

Applicants are invited from self-funded or scholarship-funded graduates ONLY

Applicants will be self-funded or will have typically applied for, or secured funding for their studies from their government, employer or associated charitable organisations.

Overseas graduates require IELTs of 6.5 overall.

Where will I study?