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MHC class I antgen presentation in autoimmune diabetes

   School of Medicine

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  Prof Malgorzata Garstka, Prof Onur SERÇİNOĞLU  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

A graduate program starting in September 2022 is now open for the applications by international students. The M.Sc. or Ph.D. student will work with Prof. Malgorzata Garstka at Precision Medical Institute, the Second Affiliated Hospital, Medical School of Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, China. 

 The Project

Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is a chronic autoimmune disease in which auto-reactive CD8+ T cells destroy pancreatic β cells. These auto-reactive CD8+ T cells recognize a self-antigen presented in the context of the certain major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules.

We aim to obtain novel molecular and mechanistic insights about the involvement of the MHC antigen presentation pathway in T1DM. These aspects may include the molecular details of peptide binding to MHC class I molecules, the earliest transport steps and quality control of MHC class I molecules, or the interference in MHC class I antigen presentation by viruses. Next, we will test various strategies targeting this pathway to prevent auto-reactive T cell responses ex vivo.

Our interdisciplinary research involves molecular immunology, molecular and cellular biology, and computational biology in the close collaboration with Prof. Onur Serçinoğlu at Gebze Technical University, Turkey. In the long term, this work may establish a novel mode of treatment for the autoimmunity.


We Ask

We seek highly motivated individuals with biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology or computational biology degrees who already have extensive research experience.

Applicants for Master's degree must have a Bachelor's degree and be under 35 years of age,

Applicants for Doctoral degree must have a Master's degree and be under 40 years of age.


 We Offer

The successful M.Sc. and Ph.D. candidates will be awarded the scholarship that covers tuition fees for the study period (3 years for M.Sc., 4-5 years for Ph.D.) and provides a monthly stipend as a contribution to living expenses. It also provides funding to allow participation in the national and international conferences during the period of the study.


Xi'an Jiaotong University (XJTU) is a Chinese C9 League university included in the state-level Project 211 and Project 985, and the hub of the University Alliance of the Silk Road. The School of Medicine of XJTU has over 4,000 excellent and experienced employees in 28 departments (including affiliated hospitals). The Second Affiliated Hospital is a modern hospital with comprehensive care facilities that integrates medical teaching, scientific research and preventive health care, and ranks in China’s top 100 hospitals. With roughly 2,200 beds, more than 80,000 patients in part-time and full-time inpatient treatment, as well as 1,900,000 patients in ambulant treatment, are medicated each year.


The main focus of the Garstka lab is to study MHC class I antigen presentation in health and disease and develop diagnostic and therapeutic methods for the detection and treatment of diabetes and cancer. The research is embedded in the Department of Core Research Laboratory that has a strong background in immunology and clinical research. Locally, we collaborate with medical doctors at the Urology and Endocrinology Departments of the Second Affiliated Hospitals of Xi’an Jiaotong University, and the protein scientists at the Frontier Institute of Science and Technology of Xi’an Jiaotong University. Internationally, we collaborate with the research groups in Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, France and the UK. 

Further Information

Additional information can be obtained from Prof. Malgorzata Garstka at [Email Address Removed]


Interested applicants are advised to email to [Email Address Removed] the following documents for initial review and assessment. 

   •      CV 

   •      Two recommendation letters from professors or associate professors with company/university letterhead 

   •      Personal statement outlining your interests in the position 

   •      Academic transcripts in English or Chinese

   •      Verified certificates of education qualifications in English or Chinese. Prospective diploma winners must submit official proof of student status by their current school 

   •      Copies of research achievements: published research papers, award certificates or other documents to prove applicant’s achievement and ability in academic research 

Funding Notes

The candidate will apply with Prof. Malgorzata Garstka for the Chinese Government Scholarship (deadline is March 15th, 2022).

Application procedure:
1. Online application at
2. Online application at Xi'an Jiaotong University:
3. Payment of application fee

The successful candidates will be awarded the scholarship that covers tuition fees for the study period (3 yeear for M.Sc. and 4 years for Ph.D) and provides a monthly stipend as a contribution to living expenses. It also provides funding to allow participation in the national and international conferences during the period of the study.


1. Garstka M., Fish A., Celie P.H.N., Joosten R.P., Janssen G.M.C., Berlin I., Hoppes R., Stadnik M., Janssen L., Ovaa H., van Veelen P.A., Perrakis A., and Neefjes J. (2015) The first step of peptide selection in antigen presentation by MHC class I molecules. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A., 112:1505-10.
2. Garstka M.A., Fritzsche S., Lenart I., Hein Z., Jankevicius G., Boyle L.H., Elliott T., Trowsdale J., Antoniou A.N., Zacharias M., and Springer S. (2011). Tapasin dependence of major histo-compatibility complex class I molecules correlates with their conformational flexibility. FASEB J., 25: 3989-98.
3. Serçinoǧlu O & Ozbek P (2020) Sequence-structure-function relationships in class i MHC: A local frustration perspective. PLoS One 15, e0232849.
4. Serçinoglu O, Ozbek P. gRINN: a tool for calculation of residue interaction energies and pro-tein energy network analysis of molecular dynamics simulations. Nucleic Acids Res. 2018 Jul 2;46(W1):W554- W562.
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