Alveolar macrophages are white blood cells that provide an essential first line of defence in the lung. They hunt, engulf and destroy invading pathogens. However, some common microbes are able to evade this response and establish asymptomatic infections in the lung. Traditionally, these are thought of as harmless. However, we have recent data suggesting that the presence of these organisms, at very low level, may nonetheless modify the inflammatory response of the lung when it is exposed to a secondary pathogen.
The aim of this PhD is to explore this phenomenon and understand how it may impact on allergic diseases such as asthma. We will use a combination of immunology approaches (flow-cytometry, RNAseq, cytokine quantification) and high-resolution imaging to explore how macrophages change their behaviour in response to co-infecting pathogens, and how that then impacts on their likelihood of triggering an allergic reaction. We will integrate this with epidemiological data on allergens and with advanced mass-spectrometry approaches to understand the underlying cellular signalling. By the end of the project, we hope to provide the first comprehensive understanding of how the undetected presence of lung microbes might influence allergy in some individuals.
Person Specification Successful applicants will be enthusiastic, curious individuals who are able to lead their independent project whilst working closely as part of a larger research team. They should have a strong background in biology/medical sciences and ideally research experience in microbiology or immunology. They must hold or realistically expect to obtain at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a relevant field and be able to demonstrate strong analytical and communication skills.
Please check the MRC website for full eligibility criteria View Website