PhD Studentship Neurogenic Inflammation in Airways Disease

Professor Tracey Hussell & Dr Kristian Sandberg

The Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research (MCCIR) invites applications for this 3-year PhD studentship. Funding covers an annual tax-free stipend of £19,000 plus tuition fees and research expenses. Whilst funding is limited to UK/EU tuition fee rates, MCCIR will consider applications from outstanding non-EU nationals if they can cover the difference in UK/EU and international fees (approximately £12, 600 p.a.) The proposed start date for the PhD is September 2013, but this is flexible, with a January 2014 start also possible.

The concentration of pro-inflammatory sensory neuropeptides is increased in the airway mucosa of patients suffering from chronic upper and lower airway inflammation and their concentration appears to correlate with the intensity of patients symptoms. In murine models immunoreactive nerves are present within the lining of respiratory epithelium, bronchial smooth muscle, around blood vessels and close to lymphoid aggregates. However, very limited information exists on their presence in inflamed human lung tissue.

The semaphorins are secreted and membrane-bound proteins originally identified as axonal guidance factors. Several members of this family are expressed in the immune system [17–19]. Semaphorin Sema4A is highly expressed on dendritic and TH1 cells. T cells from Sema4a −/− mice differentiate poorly into IFN-γ-secreting TH1 cells, the knockout mice display higher levels of serum IgE following bacterial challenge. The successful PhD candidate will perform careful confocal microscopy analysis of neurite outgrowth in the inflamed lung from patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Their association with foci of inflammation will be determined to identify key cell interactions. They will test the over-riding hypothesis that cross talk between innervating neurons and immune cells is involved in the pathogenesis of chronic lung inflammation.

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This PhD will provide a unique opportunity to work at the interface between academia and industry in a vibrant research centre. Extensive training will be provided in cutting edge technologies relevant to inflammation research, such as flow cytometry, microscopy and in vivo models.

Applicants should hold a minimum upper-second honours degree (or equivalent) in a biological/medical science, biochemistry, pharmacology or related area. A related Masters qualification or extensive research experience (> 2 years) would be an advantage.

Please direct applications in the following format to Helen Tweddle (, via the ‘Apply’ button below:

  • Academic CV
  • Official academic transcripts
  • Contact details for two suitable referees
  • Personal statement (750 words maximum) outlining your suitability for the study, what you hope to achieve from the PhD and research experience to date.

Applications are invited up to and including Monday 15 July 2013.

Kikutani H, Kumanogoh A. Semaphorins in interactions between T cells and antigen-presenting cells. Nat Rev Immunol. 2003;3:159–67.

Mizui M, Kumanogoh A, Kikutani H. Immune Semaphorins: novel features of neural guidance molecules. J Clin Immunol. 2009;29:1–11.

Suzuki K, Kumanogoh A, Kikutani H. Semaphorins and their receptors in immune cell interactions. Nat Immunol. 2008;9:17–23.

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