This course allows you to work alongside our world renowned experts from the School of Life Sciences and gain a ’real research’ experience. You will have the opportunity to select a research project from a variety of thematic areas of research.
You will be part of our collaborative working environment and have access to outstanding shared facilities such as microscopy and proteomics. Throughout your year, you will develop an advanced level of knowledge on your topic of interest as well as the ability to perform independent research in the topic area. Alongside basic science training in experimental design, data handling and research ethics, we will help you to develop skills in critical assessment and communication. This will be supported by workshops in scientific writing, presentation skills, ethics, laboratory safety, statistics, public engagement and optional applied bioinformatics.
The lining of the gut is constantly exposed to external inputs including food antigens, microbes, and chemicals. Intraepithelial T lymphocytes (IEL) are a specialized subset of immune cells that patrol the single layer of epithelial cells lining the gut. In a normal disease-free state, IEL are resting, and exist in harmony with all these foreign insults. When a pathogen is encountered, however, IEL are able to respond rapidly, either killing the infected or stressed cell, or alerting the rest of the immune system to deal with the situation. We would like to understand how IEL are kept in this resting state, yet can be triggered so rapidly. This is particularly important to understand from a disease-perspective as well, since activated IEL that are left unchecked can drive or aggravate inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and Coeliac disease. The project available in my lab is to investigate the contribution of checkpoint immune receptors in keeping IEL in check, using innovative new techniques like high-throughput barcoded phospho-flow cytometry, proximity ligation assays, and in vivo models. These studies will help us to better understand our bodies’ responses to checkpoint blockade therapies in cancer, and how to control inflammation in the gut in inflammatory bowel diseases.