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The role of the immune system in women’s reproductive health

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

About the Project

The human endometrium is a highly dynamic tissue that rapidly regenerates over approximately 20 days and differentiates to form a uterus lining receptive to embryo implantation, further transforming into decidua to support embryonic development, or breaking down before regenerating a few days later. Crosstalk between local structural, vascular and immune cells is critical for the functions to carried out and is under hormonal control. Dysregulation of this process can lead to infertility, pregnancy complications and serious benign and malignant diseases. Together, these pathologies affect a significant fraction of women and families, and pregnancy complications negatively impact the lifelong health of offspring. However, the immune system in the uterus is poorly characterised and in particular how repair and regeneration in the uterus is shaped by immune cells. This project will combine mucosal immunology expertise within the Lydia Becker Institute combined with reproductive biology expertise within the Maternal and Fetal Health Research Group to dissect immune cell interactions with local structural and other non immune cells to enable characterisation of critical regulators of implantation in early pregnancy.

Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a topic related to biological and medical sciences. Candidates with experience in cell biology, development or immunology or with an interest in reproductive medicine are encouraged to apply.

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website ( Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select PhD Immunology.

For international students we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 3 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website (View Website). For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (View Website).

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website View Website


Mann, ER., Menon M, Knight SB, Konkel JE, Jagger C, Shaw TN, Krishnan S, Rattray M, Ustianowski A, Bakerly ND, Dark P, Lord G, Simpson A, Felton T, Ho L-P, NIHR Respiratory TRC, Feldmann M, CIRCO, Grainger JR, Hussell T. Longitudinal immune profiling reveals key myeloid signatures associated with COVID-19. (2020). Science Immunology. 5(51) eabd6197

Scott, N.A., Andrusaite, A., Andersen, P., Lawson, M., Alcon-Giner, C., Leclaire, C., Caim, S., Le Gall, G, Shaw, T., Connolly, J.P.R., Roe, A.J., Wessel, H., Bravo-Blas, A., Thomson, C., Kästele, V., Wang, P., Peterson, D.A., Bancroft, A., Li, X., Grencis, R., Mowat, A.M., Hall, L.J., Travis, M.A., Milling, S.W.F. and Mann, E.R. (2018). Antibiotics induce sustained dysregulation of intestinal T cell immunity by perturbing macrophage homeostasis. Science Translational Medicine. 10(464)
Kelly, A., Gunalty, S., McEntee, C.P., Shuttleworth, E.E., Smedley, C., Houston, S.A., Fenton, T.M., Levison, S., Mann, E.R. and Travis, M.A. (2018). Human monocytes and macrophages regulate immune tolerance by integrin avb8-mediated TGFb activation. Journal of Experimental Medicine. 215(11):2725-2736
PT Ruane, C Buck, PA Babbington, W Aboussahoud, SC Berneau, M Westwood, SJ Kimber, JD Aplin, D R Brison (2019). The effects of hyaluronate-containing medium on human embryo attachment to endometrial epithelial cells in vitro. Human Reproduction Open. In Press
PT Ruane, SC Berneau, R Koeck, J Watts, SJ Kimber, DR Brison, M Westwood, JD Aplin (2017). Apposition to endometrial epithelial cells activates mouse blastocysts for implantation. Molecular Human Reproduction 23:617-627.

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