MRes/PhD Studentship Dissecting the Role of the Dectin-1 Receptor in the Innate Defences of the Uro-Genital Tract



Reference Code: CB104

Details:

Name of the Supervisors
Dr J Hall, Institute for Cell and Molecular Bioscience 
Professor R Pickard, Institute of Cellular Medicine  
Mr P Hilton, Consultant Gynaecologist and Urogynaecologist (Honorary Senior Lecturer) Newcastle Biomedicine 
Mr A Ali, Academic Clinical Lecturer

Sponsor
William Harker Foundation Studentship

Duration of the Award
Four years (MRes Medical and Molecular Biosciences followed by a three-year PhD).

Project Description
Recurrent urinary tract infection (rUTI) affects over 10% of women aged 60+. The combination of recurrent abdominal pain and malaise make rUTI a socially disabling problem affecting quality of life. Long-term antibiotic prophylaxis is the mainstay treatment but this encourages bacterial resistance, making further treatment difficult. Thus there is a need to comprehend the reasons behind the increased susceptibility of older women to infection and to develop alternate non-antibiotic based preventative and treatment strategies.

Clinical and in vitro studies reported by our group show the host peptide beta-defensin-2 (BD2), to function as a key antimicrobial component in the uro-genital defences. We have observed in vitro that yeast zymosan enhances BD2 secretion in immortalised vaginal (VK2) and bladder (RT4) cells and have identified the expression and synthesis of the Dectin-1 receptor (Dectin-1R), which recognises zymosan, in both cell types. These data suggest that activation of the Dectin 1R functions as a novel innate defence mechanism helping to protect the uro-genital epithelium from infection.

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This project using RT4 and VK2 cells, qPCR profiler and antibody arrays aims to dissect the signalling pathways by which Dectin 1R activation switches on the host innate defences of the uro-genital epithelia. Once candidate pathways are established, these will be confirmed by qPCR and western analyses using vaginal biopsies obtained from post-menopausal women during surgery.

This project, exploring the host factors involved in the innate defence of the uro-genital tract has the potential to identify novel therapeutic targets that could be further developed to treat UTIs.

Value of the Award and Eligibility
The award covers tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and an annual stipend in line with Research Council rate (currently £13,726).

Person Specification
Candidates should have or expect to achieve a first-class or upper-second-class Honours degree in a relevant science subject.

How to Apply
You must complete the University’s postgraduate application form selecting ‘Master of Research/Doctor of Philosophy (Medical Sciences) – Cell and Molecular Biosciences’ as the programme of study. Once you have selected the programme, please insert the studentship/partnership reference number CB104. Only mandatory fields need to be completed (no personal statement required) but you must attach a copy of your CV and a covering letter, quoting the title of the studentship and reference number CB104.

Closing Date for Applications
The post will remain open until a suitable applicant is appointed. Early application is advised.

Further Information
For further details, please contact:
Dr J Hall
E-mail: judith.hall@ncl.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 222 8346

For more information and to submit an application, please use the ‘Apply’ button below.

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