Dr William Jenkinson PhD

Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy
Senior Lecturer

Contact details

Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy
MRC Centre for Immune Regulation
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

William Jenkinson is a Senior Lecturer in immunology within the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy.

William’s research interests cover investigation of mechanisms controlling T-cell development and central tolerance. William is particularly interested in studying the development and function of stromal cells within the thymus, including how alterations in thymic stromal cells impact T-cell development and autoimmunity that can occur following bone marrow transplantation and in increasing age. He has published over 35 papers in the field of thymus biology since 2005 and has received research funding from BBSRC, Cancer Research UK, The Leverhulme Trust and the MRC.

William is interested to hear from prospective PhD students, particularly those holding international and personal scholarships, who wish to pursue research in the field of T cell development and thymic stromal cell function.


  • PhD Immunology 2003
  • MRes Immunology and Oncology 2000
  • BSc (Hons) Anatomy 1999


William graduated from the University of Liverpool, UK, with a BSc (Hons) in Anatomy in 1999. Following graduation, William moved to the University of Birmingham, UK, to study for an MRes in Immunology and Oncology, subsequently pursuing his interest in immunology by studying for a PhD in Immunology in the field of thymus stromal cell biology, graduating from the University of Birmingham in 2003.

Following a brief foray into the field of haematopoieitic cell development at the Paterson Institute, Manchester, William returned to the University of Birmingham, subsequently being awarded a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship in 2006 to continue his research into thymic stromal cell biology. William was appointed to a Lectureship position in Immunology in 2007, and subsequently achieved a Senior Lectureship in 2015.

In addition to his research portfolio, William has developed a range of teaching experience including lecturing, small group teaching and research supervision of both undergraduate and postgraduate students.


  • BMedSc Year 2 – Immunology and Infection, Stem Cells
  • BMedSc Year 3 – Experimental Immunology, Stem Cells
  • MBChB Year 2 – Immunology and Infection
  • MSc Immunology and Immunotherapy

Postgraduate supervision

William is interested in supervising students to study for a PhD in the following areas:

  • Stromal cell biology
  • T-cell development
  • Central tolerance / autoimmunity

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact William on the contact details above, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email: dr@contacts.bham.ac.uk or call +44 (0)121 414 5005.  William is particularly interested to hear from prospective students holding international or personal scholarships.

For a full list of available Doctoral Research opportunities, please visit our Doctoral Research programme listings.



The thymus represents a vital organ of the immune system, providing the primary site for T-cell development. The production of T-cells by the thymus has a direct impact on the capacity of the immune system to fight infectious agents and provide surveillance against cancer forming cells. Within the thymus, stromal cells provide unique signals to support the development of T-cells that are subsequently exported into the peripheral circulation. As peripheral T cells are continuously lost through attrition, continued production of T-cells by the thymus is critical for the maintenance of a diverse T-cell pool required for effective, lifelong immune protection against diverse infectious challenges. The central role of thymic stromal cells in the regulation of T-cell development is highlighted by the breakdown of T-cell mediated immunity and the manifestation of autoimmunity that can occur in both human patients and animal models possessing defects in thymic stromal cell development and function.

The primary research focus of the lab is to investigate mechanisms regulating the development and function of thymic stromal cells and determine how this impacts T-cell development, immune protection and autoimmune disease. The significance of understanding, and potentially manipulating thymic stromal cell development and function, may have important implications for attempts to improve T-cell development in settings of diminished T-cell immunity and associated susceptibility to infection such as occurs following irradiation therapy and subsequent bone marrow transplantation.

Thymic mesenchymal stroma

The size of thymic tissues directly correlates with the capacity of the thymus to produce new T-cells. Our previous research revealed that thymic mesenchymal stroma plays a critical role in driving the growth of functional thymic microenvironments, particularly during fetal stages. Our current research is aimed at further investigating how thymic mesenchyme contributes to thymic function and T-cell development in established thymus tissues, and how alterations in thymic mesenchyme may contribute to the loss of thymic function that occurs with increasing age.

Thymic epithelial stroma

Thymic epithelial cells critically regulate T-cell development via supporting the development, proliferation and selection of diverse, functional T-cells. Critically, thymic epithelium contributes to the prevention of autoimmune disease via deletion of autoreactive T-cells and supporting the development of suppressive regulatory T-cells. Ongoing research within the lab is aimed at defining the developmental pathways of thymic epithelial cells, including investigation of thymic epithelial progenitor and stem cell populations and the cellular and molecular interactions that control the differentiation and maintenance of such cells.

T cell development

T-cell development is intrinsically linked to thymic stromal cell function. The regulated interaction of immature, developing T-cells with functionally distinct thymic stromal subsets is critical for effective T-cell production. Our research in this area includes investigation of the mechanisms that control the migration of T-cell progenitors and their progeny into, within and ultimately out of thymic tissues and the processes that contribute to the intrathymic selection of self-tolerant, functional T-cell subsets.

Other activities

  • British Society for Immunology West Midlands Immunology Group Committee


Lucas B, McCarthy NI, Baik S, Cosway E, James KD, Parnell SM, White AJ, Jenkinson WE and Anderson G (2016) Control of the thymic medulla and its influence on abT-cell development. Immunol Rev 271(1):23-37

Baik S, Sekai M, Hamazaki Y, Jenkinson WE and Anderson G (2016) RelB acts downstream of medullary thymic epithelial stem cells and is essential for the emergence of RANK+ medullary epithelial progenitors. Eur J Immunol 46(4):857-62

Anderson G and Jenkinson WE (2015) Co-ordination of intrathymic self-representation. Nat Immunol 16(9):895-6

McCarthy NI, Cowan JE, Nakamura K, Bacon A, Baik S, White AJ, Parnell SM, Jenkinson EJ, Jenkinson WE and Anderson G (2015) Osteoprotegerin-mediated homeostasis of RANK+ thymic epithelial cells does not limit Foxp3+ regulatory T cell development. J Immunol 195(6):2675-82

Jenkinson WE, McCarthy NI, Dutton EE, Cowan JE, Parnell SM, White AJ, Anderson G (2015) Natural Th17 cells are critically regulated by functional medullary microenvironments. J Autoimmun 63:13-22

Anderson G and Jenkinson WE (2015) Border control: Anatomical origins of the thymus medulla. Eur J Immunol 45(8):2203-7

Cowan JE, McCarthy NI, Parnell SM, White AJ, Bacon A, Serge A, Irla M, Lane PJ, Jenkinson EJ, Jenkinson WE and Anderson G (2014) Differential requirement for CCR4 and CCR7 during the development of innate and adaptive abT cells in the adult thymus. J Immunol 193(3):1204-12

White AJ, Jenkinson WE, Cowan JE, Parnell SM, Bacon A, Jones ND, Jenkinson EJ and Anderson G (2014) An essential role for medullary thymic epithelial cells during the intrathymic development of invariant NKT cells. J Immunol 192(6):2659-66

Alves NL, Takahama Y, Ohigashi I, Ribeiro AR, Baik S, Anderson G and Jenkinson WE (2014) Serial progression of cortical and medullary thymic epithelial microenvironments. Eur J Immunol 44(1):16-22