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  Understanding the interplay between acne treatment and the inflammasome

   Hull York Medical School

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  Dr Kim Robinson  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Acne is a very common, under researched area of high unmet clinical need and has a major impact on the patient’s quality of life. Isotretinoin remains the gold standard therapeutic for severe acne and while highly effective has important, potential physiological and psychological side effects and a mechanism of action that is poorly understood. This exciting fully-funded PhD project will explore the interplay between isotretinoin and innate immunity in acne as part of a fully funded, ongoing NIHR clinical trial running from 2023-2028, which aims to study a diverse patient cohort of acne patients receiving high and low doses of isotretinoin. The project will be supported by a supervisory team with expertise in skin biology, innate immunity and acne (Robinson, Boucher, Layton).

Using clinical samples (skin biopsies and blood) the immune responses (cytokines secretion, immune cell functions) and cellular changes will be studied. One such immune pathway known to be activated is the inflammasome, which is responsible for producing proinflammatory cytokines during acne. You will first explore how the inflammasome impacts acne during isotretinoin treatment. Our lab has already established multiple tools to study the inflammasome in vitro. You will also establish human cell models that will enable us to model acne in vitro. This project has a strong translational focus, uniquely integrated into the NIHR Acne-ID trial such that patients with acne will benefit directly from your work.

By the end of your PhD you will have made significant discoveries in the field of inflammatory skin disease, building on the combination of basic and clinical lab expertise of the host labs. You will graduate with extremely strong laboratory and transferable skills and a clear understanding of how these can be applied clinically to identify novel therapeutic strategies controlling defined immune pathways.

For informal inquiries, please contact Kim Samirah Robinson, [Email Address Removed].

Location and Research Culture

The project will take place within the Experimental Medicine and Biomedicine group at Hull York Medical School at the University of York, including the HYMS Skin Research Centre.

Hull York Medical School is a unique partnership bringing together the expertise of both the Universities of Hull and York and offering a thriving environment in which to conduct world-leading research. Strong partnerships with NHS Trusts and community health organisations offer a wide clinical base that fosters translation of biomedical research to improve health. Our research is a key component of the York Biomedical Research Institute.

You will be part of a vibrant post-graduate community within the medical school but also interacting with students from other PhD Programmes at the University of York. You will have access to the University of York Biosciences Technology Facility, allowing the use of cutting-edge equipment to support the research as needed for the project (e.g. imaging, bioinformatics etc.) You will be supported by a thesis advisory panel, and will follow a training programme on transferable and research skills.

Start Date

1st October 2024

Qualification Required

In order to qualify for this scholarship you will require an undergraduate degree with at least a 2.1, or equivalent, in a relevant subject. English Language IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component.

How to Apply

All applications MUST BE submitted to Hull York Medical School via the online application method choosing option PhD in Medical Sciences October, full time or part time:

The deadline for applications is the 28th March 2024.

In order for the Panel to get a sense of your academic background, commitment and interest, you are required to complete the application form in full and provide a research proposal/outline of academic interest. Research proposals and personal statements may be used in selecting applicants for interview. If you have any queries on how to apply please email [Email Address Removed].

Please note that this is a student scholarship. If you will be employed by HYMS (e.g. on a fixed or short-term contract) for the duration of your study, you will not be eligible to receive the student scholarship as a member of HYMS staff. 


Applicants who are shortlisted for interview will be contacted via email. If you are not invited for the interview, it means that your application has not been successful. Please note that we do not offer feedback to applicants who are not invited to the interview.

Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

This 4-year full-time studentship will be funded by the Hull York Medical School. The funding will include:
- Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£TBC for 2024/25 academic year)
- UK tuition fees.
- Research support and training charges, covering laboratory consumables and training costs.
- International and EU students will need to have sufficient funds to cover the difference in fee costs (see laboratory-based degrees here) and the costs of their student visa, NHS health surcharge, travel insurance and transport to the UK as these will not be covered by the studentship.

Where will I study?