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(MRC DTP) Examining the immune features of community Coronavirus infection

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr J Grainger, Dr A Verma, Dr J Konkel  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Coronavirus pandemic has revealed the stark differences in severity of disease dependent upon comorbidities, ethnicity and deprivation. Many of these differences are associated with inappropriate or uncontrolled immune responses. However, alterations to underlying immune features that lead to poor outcomes in COVID-19, including death, are still poorly understood. Focussing initially on comorbidities, such as diabetes, this project will bring together immunologists, public health experts and clinicians to explore the immune features associated with poor outcome in individuals infected with Coronavirus.  

At the beginning of the pandemic the team established the Coronavirus Immunology and Clinical Outcomes consortium at the Lydia Becker Institute, The University of Manchester. This study has now recruited over 300 hospitalised patients from four of the largest hospitals across Manchester. As part of this study we have identified candidate immunologic markers associated with poor outcome and long-COVID. We have recently established a new study to investigate how these immunologic markers vary in the community and whether they could be used in non-hospitalised individuals to identify people at risk of long-term effects of Coronavirus. Additionally, by understanding what is controlling these immunologic markers we may be able to identify new therapies that could be used outside of the hospital setting. 

The main techniques to be used in the project will be those associated with immunologic analysis of human blood samples and training in the bioinformatics skills required to analyse complex immunologic data and link it with clinical parameters and public health outcomes. As part of the Lydia Becker Institute we have access to a state-of-the-art flow cytometry facility and so high dimensional flow cytometry (27-32 parameter) at the cutting-edge of current approaches will be employed to investigate immune populations including neutrophils, monocytes and T cells. 

Research will be undertaken at Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation and the student will be part of an interdisciplinary team led by immunologists and public health experts.

Coronavirus Immune Response and Clinical Outcomes (CIRCO)

Entry Requirements

Applicants must have obtained or be about to obtain a First or Upper Second class UK honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science, engineering or technology.

How to Apply

To be considered for this project you MUST submit a formal online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the MRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) website 

Applicants interested in this project should make direct contact with the Primary Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

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

Funding will cover UK tuition fee 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 scheme.


1. Shuwa HA, Shaw TN, Knight SB, Wemyss K, McClure FA, Pearmain L, Prise I, Jagger C, Morgan DJ, Khan S, Brand O, Mann ER, Ustianowski A, Bakerly ND, Dark P, Brightling CE, Brij S, CIRCO, Felton T, Simpson A, Grainger JR, Hussell T, Konkel JE, Menon M (2021) Alterations in T and B cell function persist in convalescent COVID-19 patients. Med (N Y). 11;2(6):720-735.
2. Mann ER, Menon M, Knight SB, Konkel JE, Jagger C, Shaw TN, Krishnan S, Rattray M, Ustianowski A, Bakerly ND, Dark P, Lord G, Simpson A, Felton T, Ho LP, NIHR Respiratory TRC, Feldmann M, CIRCO, Grainger JR, Hussell T (2020) Longitudinal immune profiling reveals key myeloid signatures associated with COVID-19. Sci Immunol Sep 17;5(51):eabd6197.
3. Stedman M, Davies M, Lunt M, Verma A, Anderson SG, Heald AH (2020) A phased approach to unlocking during the COVID-19 pandemic-Lessons from trend analysis. Int J Clin Pract. 74(8):e13528.
4. Krishnan S, O'Boyle C, Smith C, Hulme S, Allan S, Grainger JR, Lawrence CB (2021) A hyperacute immune map of ischaemic stroke patients reveals alterations to circulating innate and adaptive cells. Clinical & Experimental Immunology 203:458-471.
5. Goenka A, Prise IE, Connolly E, Fernandez-Soto P, Morgan D, Cavet JS, Grainger JR, Nichani J, Arkwright PD, Hussell T. (2020) Infant Alveolar Macrophages Are Unable to Effectively Contain Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Front Immunol. 24;11:486.
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