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Mast cell-CD8T cell interactions as drivers of psoriasis immune-pathogenesis

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

About the Project

Psoriasis is a common, chronic, and as yet incurable inflammatory skin disease. Our project seeks to investigate the contribution of specific skin immune cells, namely mast cells and CD8 T cells, to the development of psoriasis. The latter have long been known to play a critical role in psoriasis, while the former cells have mainly been studied in the context of psoriasis-associated itch. Under normal conditions, skin resident cells such as mast cells and CD8 T cells work as immune sentinels and contribute to the barrier function of the skin. Mast cells not only are increased in numbers but also frequently degranulate, releasing a great variety of inflammatory molecules, in early recurring psoriasis lesions. Also, CD8 T cell numbers are higher in psoriasis plaques, and the activity of these cells is sharply increased.

The overall goal of our project is to characterize the biological significance of mast cells-CD8 T cell interactions and how these may contribute to the development of psoriasis and their response to treatment. We also study how their activities are affected by biologic therapy targeting a key immune system molecule – interleukin (IL) 17. This knowledge will suggest novel strategies for therapeutic intervention, e.g. by manipulating mast cell mediators in psoriatic plaques so as to block the activation of CD8 T cell and thus reduce skin inflammation

We are looking for enthusiastic and motivated candidates with a strong interest in cell biology and immunology and the use of immunological assays to study inflammatory skin diseases As a PhD student you will be encouraged to present your research at internal meetings as well as attending international conferences and will be exposed to a variety of transferable skill workshops as well as career-advising seminars. Please email us if you are interested and would like to know more about the project.

The candidate will be expected to hold an upper second class or first class honours degree in a relevant or related subject (e.g. Immunology, cell biology, biomedical sciences). Preferably candidates will also hold a Masters level degree or equivalent and be able to demonstrate research laboratory experience and exposure to basic research in the field or in a related field, and some prior competence in basic laboratory techniques (e.g. cell culture, flow cytometry).

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website ( Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. You MUST also submit an online application form - choose PhD Immunology.

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website 

Funding Notes

This project is funded by Psoriasis Association. Studentship is for the duration of three years to commence in October 2021 and covers UK tuition fees and an annual minimum stipend (£15,285 per annum 20/21).
Funding will cover UK tuition fees and stipend only. The University of Manchester aims to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. We are able to offer a limited number of scholarships that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this funding.

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