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PhD in T-cell Immunology - Developing a vaccine against Mycobacterium tuberculosis by manipulating Killer T-cell activity.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, October 31, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Background and long-term aim

Our immune system protects us from infectious diseases as well as many forms of cancer. T cells orchestrate this system. The importance of T-cells is evident in HIV/AIDS patients who have lower numbers of these critical cells. The Cardiff University T-cell Modulation Group, headed by Professor Andrew Sewell, has made a number of recent advances in T-cell research, including successfully building T-cells that the HIV virus cannot escape from, using T-cells to successfully fight cancer and building the world’s first ever synthetic non-biologic vaccine. We have also been working on T-cell responses to Mycobacterium, the genus of bacteria responsible for TB. As at Cardiff the necessary facilities and licences are not yet in place to work on M.tuberculosis, we have been focussing on other less dangerous relatives of TB, namely M. smegmatis and M.bovis (BCG), as these bacteria share more than 99% of the same genes with M. tuberculosis. To date we have isolated T-cells that recognise M. smegmatis that seem to be present in most healthy individuals and now wish to extend this research to include M. tuberculosis, where the long-term aim of this project is to develop a novel vaccination approach to combat this global health threat.


1. Determine if M. smegmatis reactive T-cells recognise M. tuberculosis-infected cells.
2. If so, we will establish what common molecule they are recognising.
3. If not, we will directly generate killer T-cells that recognise and destroy M. tuberculosis-infected cells and determine what molecule they are recognising.
4. Use the information acquired from objectives 1-3 to perform a pre-clinical TB vaccine study.

Funding Notes

This studentship is generously funded from the estate of Mr David Mills and Mrs Mary Mills in memory of Thomas John Evans F.R.C.S, R.A.F.V.
PhD duration is 3.5 years.
Full UK/EU tuition fees
Doctoral stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum
Additional funding is available over the course of the programme and will cover costs such as research consumables and training.


Applicants should possess a minimum of an upper second class Honours degree, master's degree, or equivalent in Biomedical Sciences or a related subject. Knowledge and experience of T-cell culture, T-cell assays, protein expression in E-coli, and protein purification.

Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to meet the minimum University requirements (e.g. 6.5 IELTS)


In order to be considered you must submit a formal application via Cardiff University’s online application service. (To access the system click 'Apply Online' at the bottom of this advert)
There is a box at the top right of the page labelled ‘Apply’, please ensure you select the correct ‘Qualification’ (Doctor of Philosophy), the correct ‘Mode of Study’ (Full Time) and the correct ‘Start Date’ (January 2020). This will take you to the application portal.

. In order to be considered candidates must submit the following information:

• Please attach a CV and cover letter which includes details of your knowledge and experience of T-cell immunology, protein expression, and protein purification.
• Qualification certificates
• Proof of English language (if applicable)

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