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(WIS) How do macrophages keep us healthy?

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Mark Travis
    Prof T Hussell
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The immune system is crucial in attacking dangerous pathogens that enter the body, but must ignore harmless microorganisms and substances to prevent unwanted, harmful immune responses. Vital cells of the immune system are macrophages, which are so-called ‘phagocytes’ that engulf debris in tissues during health and respond to pathogens when we are infected. However, these cells can malfunction during disease to cause harmful inflammation. Determining how these cells are regulated, and how this is altered in disease, is key to understanding how the immune system functions keeps us healthy, and may identify new targets for therapy in inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Our recent work has identified a key pathway that appears critical in regulating many aspects of the immune response, especially macrophages. We have identified that a molecule called TGFβ can be activated by macrophages, and that this pathway is almost absent in the intestine of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. These results suggest that pathways that regulate TGFβ may be vital in controlling macrophage function. However, we know almost nothing at present about how such pathways are controlled, and how such pathways function in different tissues of the body and in different inflammatory diseases.

Our cutting-edge project will combine international expertise in the analysis of the TGFβ and macrophages at the University of Manchester (UK) and the Weizmann Institute (Israel) to identify new pathways that regulate these vital cells in different tissues of the body during health and disease. Such work aims to identify new mechanisms by which macrophages can regulate the immune system, identifying novel targets for therapies in inflammatory disease.

Mark Travis:

Entry Requirements:
Applications should be submitted online and candidates should make direct contact with the Manchester supervisor to discuss their application directly. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject

Funding Notes

This project is to be funded under The University of Manchester and Weizmann Institute of Science Studentship. Funding covers fees (UK/EU rate) and stipend for four years. Candidates will be required to split their time between Manchester and Israel, as outlined on

As an equal opportunities institution, we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.

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