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Alopecia areata and the potential link to intestinal inflammation

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  • Full or part time
    Dr S Milling
    Prof I B McInnes
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Medical Research Scotland
PhD Studentship Award

This project is one of 15 four-year PhD Studentships funded by Medical Research Scotland (http://www.medicalresearchscotland.org.uk) to be delivered jointly by the named University and Company. The Studentships will provide the first-class academic and commercial training needed to equip the successful candidate for a science career in an increasingly competitive market.

"Investigating the Immunopathogenesis of Alopecia Areata, and the link to Intestinal Inflammation" to be delivered by the University of Glasgow and AstraZeneca R&D Gothenburg (http://www.astrazeneca.co.uk/home) [Company supervisor: Dr Annika Åstrand].

Alopecia areata (AA) is the most prevalent autoimmune disease and affects 2% of the world population. Close examination of the genetics of people with AA has recently revealed that this disease has much in common with other forms of autoimmunity, including rheumatoid arthritis, coeliac disease, and psoriasis. In particular, the immune system in AA patients is altered; cells that normally function to control infections are not properly controlled and appear to attack hair follicles, causing the disease. Treatments that inhibit these immune responses have been shown to limit the disease in AA patients and in experimental animals with similar symptoms. As yet, little is known about how these immune responses are controlled, or the mechanisms driving hair loss. Much has recently been revealed about other similar diseases, including the fact that immune responses made in the intestine have a profound influence on immune-mediated diseases in other parts of the body. Therefore, there are now fantastic opportunities to make rapid progress towards understanding the mechanisms driving, and possibly combating, AA.

This project is aimed at understanding the pathogenesis of alopecia areata, both using samples from people with AA, and specific experiments with an animal model of the disease. The project will involve close engagement with an active local charity supporting people with AA, and with the recently-established Glasgow-based Alopecia Biobank. The project also receives strong support from our industrial partner, AstraZeneca (in Gothenburg, Sweden) who will provide training and experience in highly complementary skills.

The project will offer fantastic training in both near-patient immunology and in the use of animal models of disease. Immunophenotyping techniques, particularly multi-parameter flow cytometry, will be used alongside analysis of the microbiome, and of plasma and skin biopsies.The project will take place in the Centre for Immunobiology, a highly collaborative and productive environment with excellent facilities, on the main campus of Glasgow University.

Enquiries may be sent, by email, to Dr Simon Milling:
[Email Address Removed]

Candidates must have obtained, or expect to obtain, at least a good 2.1 UK BSc Honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK, in an appropriate discipline.

Applications for this PhD scholarship should be made through our online application system, starting from step 2 on this link:

Interviews are expected to take place 3-4 weeks after the closing date for applications.

It is anticipated that the PhD Studentship will start in October 2016.

Funding Notes

PhD Studentship provides: an annual tax-free stipend of £16,500, increasing to £17,000 over the four years; tuition fees at UK/EU rates only; consumables; and contribution to travel expenses. International fees are not covered.



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