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Investigating the role of the complement system in the pathogenesis of subretinal fibrosis in neovascular age-related macular degeneration

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  • Full or part time
    Prof H Xu
    Dr M Chen
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly in western countries. There are two advanced forms: dry and wet. The majority of AMD patients lose vision due to the “wet” type disease. Wet AMD is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels and subsequent bleeding and leakage of fluids in the macula. Wet AMD is treated by the injection of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) antibodies into the eye. Nearly half of the wet AMD patients may develop subretinal fibrotic scar lesions, which severely affect the response to anti-VEGF therapy. The underlying mechanism related to the development of subretinal fibrosis in wet AMD eyes is poorly understood.

The studentship builds upon the experience and expertise of the supervisory team on AMD research to examine the immunological pathways leading to the development of subretinal fibrosis. The student will apply a range of cell/molecular biology and immunology approaches to investigate the molecular mechanism of retinal fibrosis.

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to develop knowledge in vision neuroscience, retinal patho-physiology, immunology, cell biology, and molecular biology and will acquire a wide range of laboratory skills, including real-time RT-PCR, flow cytometry, cell culture, immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy as well as in vivo models of human disease.


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

The English Language Unit (ELU) offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained from the ELU http://www.qub.ac.uk/tefl/

Funding Notes


DEL Research Studentships

Eligibility for both fees and maintenance (£14,057 for 2015/16, 2016/17 TBC) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK resident or those EU residents who have lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship.

Non UK residents who hold EU residency may also apply but if successful may receive fees only.

For further details re eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) please click on the following link: http://www.delni.gov.uk/index/further-and-higher-education/higher-education/studentfinance/he-student-info-postgrad-finance.htm


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Experimental Medicine, website for further details about the Centre:


When applying, please choose 'MEDICINE' as your subject area/School.

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