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The role of DOCK8 in immune cell biology

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

T cells form a critical arm of the immune system and are essential for protection against cancer and infection. T cells are highly dynamic, and must change shape rapidly in response to extracellular cues. However, the molecular and cellular regulation of T cell polarity is not well understood.

We recently discovered that a protein, DOCK8, is essential for the regulation of T cell polarity, synapse formation and function (Randall, Nature Immunol 2009, Randall & Oliaro, J Exp Med 2011, Randall, Blood, 2013). Significantly, humans suffering from a debilitating, and often lethal, severe combined immunodeficiency disease harbour biallelic DOCK8 mutations; highlighting the critical requirement of this protein in human immunity. This project will advance our knowledge of the cellular and molecular control of T cell polarity in adaptive immunity, which has implications for our understanding of immunodeficiency disease and the immunosurveillance of cancer.

The aims of this project will be to:
(1) Investigate the role of DOCK8 in T cell migration and immunological synapse formation in vitro
(2) Examine the anti-tumour response in DOCK8 deficient mice

Techniques commonly used in this laboratory include:Tissue culture, flow cytometry, cell sorting, fixed and time-lapse confocal microscopy, cytokine assays, killing assays, real-time PCR, western blotting, mouse experimentation and general immunological techniques.

In the Oliaro laboratory, researchers investigate the regulation of cytotoxic lymphocytes – the immune cells that are responsible for the recognition and killing of cancer cells. Our research focuses on investigating immune cell interactions with cancer cells, with a particular focus on immune synapse formation.

Funding Notes

All PhD students at Peter Mac must have a scholarship from The University of Melbourne or through another government, trust or philanthropic organisation. Before applying for a scholarship, you must have agreed on a project with an institute supervisor.

For further information about the university application process, see:
View Website

For further information regarding scholarships (both local and international), see:
View Website
Closing dates for applications for scholarships to commence in 2017: Round 1 -31 October 2016; Round 2 - 18 Dec 2016.

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