Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
University of Leeds Featured PhD Programmes
University College London Featured PhD Programmes

MHC class I antigen presentation in autoimmune diabetes mellitus

School of Medicine

Monday, February 08, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Xi'an China Biochemistry Cell Biology Endocrinology Immunology Molecular Biology

About the Project

A graduate program starting in September 2021 is now open for the applications by international students (the application for the Chinese students has closed). 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.

In this interdisciplinary research, we closely collaborate with structural biologists at the Frontier Institute of Science and Technology of Xi’an Jiaotong University, China, and computational molecular biologists at the Institute for Mathematics of Free University Berlin, Germany. In the long term, this work may establish a novel mode of treatment for the autoimmunity.

We Ask


We seek highly motivated individuals who are responsible, creative, hard-working, collaborative, detail-oriented, and committed to research excellence. The successful candidate (m/f) should have (or obtain soon) B.Sc. or M.Sc. degree or equivalent in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology or Immunology, and excellent communication skills in spoken and written English.


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 define how MHC class I antigen presentation contributes to autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and develop diagnostic and therapeutic methods for the treatment of T1DM. 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 Endocrinology Departments of the First and Second Affiliated Hospitals of Xi’an Jiaotong University and the Fourth Military Hospital in Xi’an, and experts of 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


Interested applicants are advised to email to 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

• Verified certificates of education qualifications in English. 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 

Informal inquiries may be addressed to Prof. Garstka at

Funding Notes

The candidate will apply together with Prof. Garstka for the Chinese Government Scholarship.

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

The successful M.Sc. and Ph.D. candidates will be awarded the scholarship that covers tuition fees for the study period (2 years for M.Sc., 3-4 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. Luimstra J.J., Franken K.L.M.C., Garstka M.A., Drijfhout J.W., Neefjes J.,Ovaa H. (2019). Production and Thermal Exchange of Conditional Peptide-MHC I Multimers. Curr Protoc Immunol 126 (1), e85, in press.

2. Luimstra J.J*, Garstka M.A.*^, Roex M.C.J., Redeker A., Janssen G.M.C, van Veelen P.A., Arens R., Falkenburg J.H.F, Jacques Neefjes^, Huib Ovaa^ (2018). A rapid and flexible MHC class I multimer loading system for large-scale detection of antigen-specific T cell responses. J Exp Med 215(5): 1493-1504.

3. Garstka M., Fish A., Celie P.H.N., Joosetn 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.

4. 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 histocompatibility complex class I molecules correlates with their conformational flexibility. FASEB J., 25: 3989-98.

Email Now

Insert previous message below for editing? 
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need.
Why not add a message here

The information you submit to Xi’an Jiaotong University will only be used by them or their data partners to deal with your enquiry, according to their privacy notice. For more information on how we use and store your data, please read our privacy statement.

* required field

Your enquiry has been emailed successfully

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2021
All rights reserved.