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White Rose BBSRC DTP studentship: Bioinspired multivalent glycan structures to decipher pathogen immune evasion


   Faculty of Biological Sciences


Leeds United Kingdom Biophysics Immunology

About the Project

Immune cell surfaces are equipped with pathogen pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) to identify harmful pathogens and activate immune defense against infections. However, some pathogens, e.g. HIV and bacterium Helicobacter pylori can escape immune surveillance by targeting DC-SIGN, one of the most important PRRs on dendritic cell (DC) surfaces, via their surface specific glycan patterns. Understanding how glycan binding regulates DC function thus holds great promises for novel treatment strategies against infectious and other immune dysregulation diseases. Moreover, the new immune modulating ability (more specifically: suppressing immune activation) will help treat allergy and chronic autoimmune diseases.

This project will develop novel glycan-nanostructures as pathogen mimics to investigate how glycan structures and their presentation patterns control DC-SIGN clustering to modulate DC immune function. We will exploit the unique physico-chemical properties of gold nanoparticles to develop novel multimodal readout techniques to facilitate this investigation (see example papers: J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 11833 & 2020, 142, 18022).

Ideally, the candidate will have a strong background in synthetic chemistry, chemical biology, or biophysics. A good knowledge of protein biochemistry, nano-chemistry and/or cell biology methods will be advantageous. Motivation, creativity, excellent communication and team working skills are highly desirable.

Funding Note

This studentship is part of the BBSRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology. (https://www.whiterose-mechanisticbiology-dtp.ac.uk/). Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 4 years. The funding includes:

Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£15,609 for 2021/22 starts. Awards increase every year, typically with inflation).

UK tuition fees (Around £4,500 per year)

Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG)

Conference and Professional Internships for PhD Students (PIPS) allowances

We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from inside and outside the UK. We are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.

Not all projects will be funded; the DTP will appoint a limited number of candidates via a competitive process.

How to apply

Applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable).

To help us identify that you are applying for this studentship project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert
  • For source of funding please state you are applying for a White Rose BBSRC DTP funded studentship

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