PhD Studentship – Quantitative modelling of key immunological processes is critical for the development of novel therapeutic approaches

A fully funded four year studentship under the supervision of Joern Werner, Tim Elliott and Andrew Phillips is due to start in October 2013.

Cells display a representative sample of their intracellular content at the cell surface. Peptides are generated inside the cell as a result of protein turnover and bound to MHC class I molecules. These peptide:MHC complexes are transported to the cell surface where they are recognised by cytotoxic T cells and either ignored, if perceived as “self”, or trigger activation and cell killing, if perceived as “foreign”. Accordingly, cells operate elaborate quality control systems to select and process appropriate peptide cargo. Since this process allows immune system stimulation or repression, it presents a novel intervention point to modulate immune responses in cancer, infection and autoimmune diseases.

We will establish an experimentally validated mechanistic systems model of peptide processing, loading, trafficking and presentation that will serve (a) as a quantitative framework to design biological experiments for testing the efficacy of vaccines to complex antigens such as viruses or cancer cells and (b) as a predictive tool to evaluate key molecular parameters controlling antigen presentation. We are aiming to explain the complexity of whole organism biology in terms of specific molecular rate processes that eventually should become controllable by chemical intervention.

The project combines the expertise in the development of new computer languages for biological systems (SPiM, at Microsoft Research (Phillips) with quantitative biophysics (Werner, Centre for Biological Sciences) and cellular immunology (Elliott, Faculty of Medicine). The complimentary expertise in these groups and their institutions provides a unique and highly interdisciplinary environment for a PhD

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Administrative contact and how to apply: Please complete the University’s online application form, which you can find at:

Please direct any enquiries about this procedure to

Deadline – 31st August 2013

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