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MSc by Research: The role of cathepsin-C at inflammatory sites in COVID-19

   Division of Molecular and Clinical Medicine

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Cathepsin-C (also known as dipeptidyl peptidase-1) is an enzyme involved in the activation of neutrophil serine proteases such as neutrophil elastase, proteinase-3 and cathepsin-G. This process is believed to happen primarily in bone marrow but large amounts of Cat-C can also be detected at inflammatory sites. In this project you will investigate the hypothesis that Cat-C released from neutrophils at inflammatory sites promotes pro-inflammatory responses distinct from its effects on the bone marrow. You will examine active proteases on the surface of neutrophils by flow cytometry, and the effects of Cat-C on bacteria and epithelial cells. You will use data and biosamples from a trial of Cat-C inhibition in COVID-19 to achieve some of these goals. This study will help to understand the role of neutrophils in acute COVID-19

Type: immunology, translational, wet lab    Disease areas: COVID-19, chronic lung disease

Studentship Funding

Fully funded scholarships are available to a limited number of students. These scholarships are funded for 1 year.

Funding includes:

  • tuition fees (UK rate only)
  • stipend –2022-23 - £16,062
  • research consumables

We can only fund Home Fees. International students are welcome to apply but, if successful, must be able to fund the difference in fees.


Must possess or be expected to possess by the time of starting the Masters by Research, at least one of the following:

  • First class, or 2(i) honours degree in a relevant scientific discipline, or equivalent

English language requirements

IELTS minimum overall score of 6.5 (Reading 5.5, Listening 5.5, Speaking 5.5 Writing 6.0)

How to apply

Candidates should provide a CV and a short statement (up to 500-words) supporting their application and email it to by 30th November 2022. The short statement should include details of:

  • Their personal motivation to undertake a multidisciplinary Masters by Research in respiratory medicine and infectious diseases.
  • Why this training programme is of interest to them.
  • Their preferred project and why they selected a particular project

Informal Dundee should be sent to the course director Professor James Chalmers:

Candidates are strongly encouraged to discuss their applications with us in advance, and we are happy to arrange discussions with our previous postgraduate students.

Masters of research training programme in Respiratory Medicine and Infectious Disease


The COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the critical importance of infectious diseases and respiratory medicine to global public health. Along with acute respiratory infections such as COVID-19 and pneumonia, non-communicable diseases such as COPD, asthma and bronchiectasis affects millions of people worldwide, with few effective or proven treatments. Research into respiratory infection is unlocking the potential of the microbiome to discover new treatments and diagnostic tests, with the potential to support precision medicine. Understanding the immunology of respiratory infections can lead to new treatments and vaccines to prevent avoidable morbidity and mortality. A masters in research in this exciting field will lay the perfect foundation for a career in medical research.

This course is particularly well suited to candidates who may wish to pursue a PhD degree in future.

The programme

This masters training programme offers opportunities for up to 3 students per year to join our research community.

Based in the Division of Molecular and Clinical Medicine at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee but with collaborators in multiple institutions, students will be embedded in multidisciplinary research teams conducting cutting edge research. Students will work alongside both clinicians and scientists conducting bench to bedside translational research. Excellent research training opportunities are provided, and previous masters and PhD students have won national and international awards as well as publishing high impact papers arising from their studies. Training opportunities include those provided by the Doctoral Academy in Dundee.

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