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The role of the immune system in mitochondria-mediated cardiomyopathies

Project Description

Applications are invited for a BHF 4 year MRes/PhD studentship starting in October 2019 at the Imperial Centre for Translational and Experimental Medicine (ICTEM), Hammersmith Campus.

The Cardiovascular Sections of the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, have been united in the new state-of-the art Imperial College Centre for Translational and Experimental Medicine, where they join collaborators such as the MRC Genetics and Genomics Unit. The present scheme takes advantage of new adjacencies with jointly supervised projects to explore novel areas in cardiovascular and stem cell science.

Imperial College London provides excellent opportunities for research student training. All students benefit from a full programme of training in research and transferable skills organised through the Graduate School, the quality of which has been recognised several times at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards.

Project summary

The BHF 4-year MRes/PhD studentships at ICTEM comprises a 1-year MRes in Biomedical Research, followed by a 3-year PhD. During the MRes year, students undertake two laboratory projects which will prepare them for the Ph.D.

There is growing evidence that after cardiac injury, the adaptive immune system is activated. Mitochondria are unique organelles with their own genome (mtDNA). They play central roles in energy production, calcium homeostasis and cell death. Mitochondrial dynamics (the balance of mitochondrial fusion and fission) are essential for mitochondrial homeostasis and part of the mitochondrial response to acute and chronic stress.

There has been an increasing interest in the role of mitochondria in triggering immune responses. Necrotic cells release mtDNA, which act as potent damage associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) and trigger pro-inflammatory immune responses. In contrast to this, the role of mitochondria in shaping the downstream adaptive immune response is largely unexplored. This Phd project will investigate the role of impaired mitochondrial dynamics in cardiomyocytes in triggering an adaptive immune response against the heart which includes mature B cells and pathogenic auto-antibodies.

The aim of this project will be to study (1) the immunological effects of aberrant mitochondrial dynamics and (2) the role of B cells and anti-heart auto-antibodies in mitochondria-mediated cardiomyopathy.

Applicant Requirements

Applicants must hold, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second-class honours degree or equivalent in an appropriate subject from a recognised academic institution. Candidates must fulfil College admissions criteria and meet BHF residency requirements.
This is a highly interdisciplinary project and previous theoretical and practical experience in at least one of the areas of study (immunology, cardiovascular biology, mitochondrial biology) is highly desirable. Expertise in small animal procedures and surgeries would also be an advantage.

How to Apply

To apply, please email Jinata Subba () with the following documents.

- Your CV
- The names and addresses of at least two academic referees
- A personal statement of no more than 1,000 words explaining your interest in the project

Please assume that your application has not been successful if you have not heard from us within a month of the closing date.

Closing date for all applications: Thursday, 31st January 2019

Interviews will be held in February 2019

Funding Notes

The studentships are fully funded through a BHF training grant made to Prof Sian Harding and it will cover tuition fees (at the Home/EU rate) and a tax-free stipend starting from £22,278 per annum for a total of 4 years. In addition, there is a consumable allowance of £50,000 and £1,000 travel award per studentship.

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