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PhD Studentship Opportunity in 3D models of Innate and Adaptive Immune crosstalk in ageing

Faculty of Health & Medical Sciences

About the Project

Loss of immunity with age contributes to the increase incident of infection and malignancies in older individuals. As the proportion of older people within the population is increasing, we urgently need to understand how the immune system changes with age. Ageing affects both the innate and adaptive immune system. One reason for this is due to decreased activation of the adaptive immune system by macrophages and dendritic cells. The key to better understanding complex innate-adaptive immune crosstalk is the development of robust three-dimensional (3D) human cell cultures that effectively recreate the native tissue architecture and model the microenvironment. The successful applicant will develop 3D models of lymph nodes and lung tissue using a Rotating Wall Vessel (RWV) system, developed by NASA. The RWV system, which models microgravity, provides a low fluid-shear environment and enables the growth of small 3D organoids. This technology will be used to co-culture isolated leukocytes and investigate how cells from young, middle age, and old individuals differ in activation parameters such as cytokine production, proliferation and survival. The utilization of human tissue models will accelerate the understanding of dysfunctional immune responses in the elderly.

The objectives will be:
1. To develop 3D models of lymph nodes and lung tissue using the RWV system.
2. To investigate the outcome of basic immune interactions and how these are altered by ageing.

The project offers world-class training in cellular and molecular techniques including: state-of-the-art 3D tissue models and cell culture; multi-parameter flow cytometry and immunofluorescence histology; cell isolation and encapsulation (Dolomite microfluidic system); cell activation and differentiation methods; western blotting; and qRT-PCR.

This PhD position will be co-supervised by Dr Fernando Martinez Estrada and Dr Natalie Riddell. Dr Martinez Estrada is an expert in macrophage cellular and systems biology and Dr Natalie Riddell specialises in T cell function and immune ageing.

This is a three year project starting in October 2020.

Entry requirements:
At least an upper second class honours degree (2.1) or equivalent in (but not restricted to) Biological or Biochemical sciences from a UK university or equivalent standard from an EU based University. Applications are particularly welcome from applicants with a strong background in Immunology and/or Cellular Biology.
Students without English as first language must provide a language certificate (overall IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent) before the beginning of the studentship.

How to apply:
Applicants must quote the reference and project title, and include a covering letter stating their research interest and experience/ capabilities, a CV, and at least two academic references. They must apply via the online recruitment system of the University of Surrey: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/postgraduate/biosciences-and-medicine-phd
Informal enquiries are welcomed before you apply and should be directed to Dr Fernando Martinez Estrada ().

Interviews will take place the week commencing the 28th September 2020 for applications received by the 23rd September 2020. Later applications and interview dates may also be added.

Funding Notes

Fully funded PhD studentship for UK/EU students including a stipend of £15,285 per annum. Funding sourced by Dunhill Medical Trust: Engineering novel in-vitro Model systems to accelERate aGEing research doctoral training programme (EMERGE DTP)

Funding for this project is available to citizens of UK and EU candidates. Other overseas candidate may apply but will need to secure top up funding for overseas tuition rate.

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