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(WIS) Mononuclear Phagocyte heterogeneity in oral health and disease

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  • Full or part time
    Dr J Konkel
    Prof Judi Allen
  • 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

State-of-the-art immunology research has revealed that immune-mediated inflammation of the mouth (periodontitis) is linked to development of bowel cancer, cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Manipulating the mouth immune system could be a powerful but unexplored mechanism to improve patient outcome in a number of life-threatening or life-limiting diseases. Despite this the immune system of the mouth is not well understood, presenting a critical knowledge gap that if overcome could have profound medical implications.

The immune system of the gums (termed gingiva) has different activities to the immune system in other organs. It must protect against the risk of commensal bacteria breaking through the gingival epithelial barrier, while also healing the damage that is continuously experienced in the mouth due to chewing and tooth brushing. Indeed, the wound repair process that occurs in the mouth is much faster than in the skin. A failure in this wound repair process underlies periodontal disease. Cells that are crucial to this different type of wound repair, but also in controlling commensal bacteria, are mouth monocytes and macrophages. Modulating the activities of these cells could be one possible mechanism to control and resolve periodontal inflammation.

Although well explored in other tissue, how monocytes and macrophages develop and are locally adapted to the gingiva has not been determined. Here we will employ pre-clinical models of inflammation, alongside samples from patient cohorts to define the developmental pathways of gingival monocytes and macrophages, as well as the transcriptional networks and molecular pathways underling the functional diversity of these gingiva resident immune mediators. Our research approach will utilize cutting-edge immunological techniques including multi-dimensional flow cytometry and transcriptional profiling of bulk and single-cell populations. Ultimately this work will provide much needed insight into how the myeloid network present in the gingiva is locally educated to ensure effective induction of both defensive and reparative mechanisms.

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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