Poor management of asthma affects patient quality of life, causes excessive financial burden on health systems, and is linked with asthma deaths. The airway epithelium is the first defence barrier against exogenous respirable particles and pathogens, e.g. influenza A H1N1 virus, which causes asthma exacerbations. The airway epithelium of asthmatics undergoes structural changes as part of airway remodelling, which combined with functional abnormalities contribute to asthma pathophysiology. Epigenetic factors in particular play important in asthma pathogenesis since neither genetic nor environmental factors are able to fully explain the aetiology of the disease.
The aim of this PhD project is to understand molecular mechanisms (specifically, epigenetic regulatory mechanisms including, microRNAs and their targets) responsible for airway epithelium abnormalities in asthmatics, both at baseline and after common respiratory infections, such as influenza A H1N1 infection.
During this PhD project the candidates will learn and use a wide range of novel techniques, including; cell culture, epigenetics, genomics, state-of-the-art next gene NanoString technology and protein detection techniques, in vitro. Using these innovative approaches, we will detect the functional roles of microRNAs in epithelial cells, as a regulatory factor of airway remodelling of asthmatics, after influenza A H1N1 infection, which is one of the major causes of asthma exacerbation.
Applicants should use the links provided in each topic or project area to the Research Centres and Research Groups identified, or to the named supervisors for each project, to ensure that their application and proposal fits with the research interests and topics defined in the studentships offered.
The studentship will cover tuition fees and provide an annual tax-free stipend of £15,000 for three years, subject to satisfactory progress. Applications are welcome from strong UK, EU and International students.