Wellcome Trust Four Year PhD Programme in Inflammation

Applications for September 2019 are now closed. 

Applications for 2020 intake will open in Autum 2019.


Mechanisms of Inflammatory Disease (MIDAS)

The Wellcome Trust Doctoral Training Centre in Mechanisms of Inflammatory Disease is designed to train the next generation of leading scientists in all aspects of inflammation biology.

The Centre will be led by Professor Steve Watson (Medical School) and Professor Robin May (Biosciences).  Applications are invited from students trained in the medical, life or physical sciences (including mathematicians, computing and bio-engineering). 

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Introduction

The programme is based on a 1 + 3 year model with all students embarking on a bespoke MRes degree in year 1 which will include training in research methods and lectures in inflammation biology, and three rotation projects of which one may be taken in an international research group, such as one of our strategic partners in Calgary and Melbourne.  Unique features of the program include a second three month internship and, following thesis submission, the option to apply for an additional 9 months of funding to complete outstanding publications and/or develop applications for independent postdoctoral fellowships.

Why study inflammation?

Inflammation is a complex protective response that serves to eliminate the cause of cell injury or infection, as well as removing any necrotic cells and tissues, and initiating the process of repair. The acute inflammatory response involves the migration of leukocytes into the injured tissue along with elevation of a variety of chemokines, cytokines and related mediators, which together are essential for the resolution of infection and damage. However inappropriate inflammation can lead to a variety of inflammatory diseases which range from acute sepsis to chronic inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and atherosclerosis. A detailed understanding of how to trigger, control, and limit inflammatory responses would open the door to unprecedented medical advances, both in harnessing the host immune system in eradicating infection and in reducing the substantial burden of acute and chronic inflammatory diseases. 

Our four-year PhD programme aims to tackle this major healthcare need by training the next generation of inflammation researchers in cross-disciplinary inflammation research, allowing them to move seamlessly from molecular studies (both cellular and subcellular) through whole animal physiology to human clinical trials. 

Eligibility

It is suitable for students at the interface of the biological and physical sciences with an interest in areas such as computational biology, mathematical modelling and bio-engineering.  

Programme details

Overview

The course is organised on a 1 + 3 year model, with all students receiving a MRes degree after year one.  After completing their PhD thesis, all students will be able to take advantage of 9 months additional funding to enable them to complete any outstanding research and to position themselves strongly for independent postdoctoral fellowships.

Year 1: MRes

In the first year, students will undertake a bespoke 180-credit MRes in ‘Mechanisms of Inflammatory Disease’. An induction period (2 weeks) will provide an introduction to research in the university of Birmingham, followed by two taught modules of lectures and tutorials covering both research methods and the specific research that is on-going in the laboratories of the principal investigators in this programme.  This will be followed by the writing of a grant proposal.

Students will select two rotation interdisciplinary projects in Birmingham, one in January and the second in June, one of which may be technology driven.

The students will also select a third project (April - June) at one of our international strategic partners which include Calgary, Melbourne and Marseille (or alternative partners where appropriate).

Years 2-4: PhD

Students will select their PhD project/supervisors at the end of Year 1 drawing on their research placement experiences and submitted projects.  All projects will be overseen by a supervisory team which will include their supervisors and a minimum of two other researchers with relevant experience.

During the PhD, students will undertake a short (2-4 weeks) internship in a non-laboratory science discipline (e.g. science editing at major scientific journals, science policy at funding organisations, or public engagement in science) and a 3 month external (inter)national placement related to the PhD.  

Supervisors

Below is a list of MIDAS supervisors.  Please note that not all supervisors will submit projects and the supervisor pool may change.

David Adams Immune regulation in the liver
Graham Anderson Cellular and molecular control of T-cell tolerance and autoimmunity
Wiebke Arlt Steroids, inflammation and metabolic disease
Francesca Barone Leucocyte/stromal cell interaction in tertiary lymphoid structures
Antonio Belli Inflammatory response to neurological injury
Roy Bicknell Endothelial surface proteins and their role in angiogenesis
Alexander Brill Development of new approaches to treat thrombosis
Christopher Buckley What determines tissue tropism in chronic inflammation: A key role for fibroblasts
Jorge Caamano
Fat associated lymphoid clusters in inflammatory processes
Andy Clark

Pathways of regulation of resolution of inflammation

Adam Cunningham Improving health through exploiting immunity to pathogens and their products

Sarah Dimeloe

 Metabolism and interlinked immune fuction of T lymphocytes in health and disease

Rebecca Drummond

Role of inflammation in organ-specific immunity against fungal infections

Giorgos Gkoutas

Clinical and biomedical informatics, computational biology, and integrative and translational research in human disease
Liam Grover Promoting tissue regeneration of modifying ECM formation
Rebecca Hall How inflammation regulates host-pathogen interactions
Rowan Hardy Steroid metabolism in inflammatory muscle wasting and bone loss
Martin Hewison Vitamin D and inflammation
Sara Jabbari Mathematical modelling in biology
Neena Kalia

Novel mechanisms of inflammatory injury and vasculoprotective therapies for the coronary microcirculation following a heart attack

Patricia Lalor Understanding the pathogenesis of human liver disease
Gareth Lavery NAD+ salvage and energy metabolism in ageing skeletal muscle
 Janet Lord The role of inflammation in ageing
Kendle Maslowski  Innate immune pathways in fighting infection and cancer development
Robin May Inflammatory signalling in the innate immune response to infection
Helen McGettrick Regulating the inflammatory  infiltrate using MSC or PEPITEM

Alan McNally

Microbial evolutionary genomics
Paula Mendes Diagnostic molecular-based technologies; switchable biological surfaces; intracellular nonoscale sensors
Tim Mitchell Pore forming toxins and inflammation
Philip Newsome Mesenchymal stromal cells in inflammatory liver disease
Joanna Parish  How inflammatory mediators influence human papillomavirus (HPV) carcinogenesis  
Ed Rainger Inflammation biology
Elizabeth Sapey Neutrophil functions in chronic inflammatory lung disease and ageing
Dagmar Scheel-Toellner Investigating the contribution of a novel B cell population to inflammatory diseases
Zania Stamataki  B cell and T cell functions in the human liver microenvironment 
David Thickett Pathophysiology of inflammatory and fibrotic lung diseases
Graham Wallace Ocular inflammation
Steve Watson Inflammatory haemostasis and thrombosis 
Benjamin Willcox Immune recognition by gamma delta T cells
David Withers

Targeting TH17 and ILC3 driven inflammation

David Wraith

T cell biology in autoimmunity and immunotherapy

How to apply

Applications for the September 2019 intake are now closed.

Application for 2020 intake will open Autumn 2019.

Inflammation is a complex protective response that serves to eliminate the cause of cell injury or infection, as well as removing any necrotic cells and tissues, and initiating the process of repair. The acute inflammatory response involves the migration of leukocytes into the injured tissue along with elevation of a variety of chemokines, cytokines and related mediators, which together are essential for the resolution of infection and damage. However inappropriate inflammation can lead to a variety of inflammatory diseases which range from acute sepsis to chronic inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and atherosclerosis. A detailed understanding of how to trigger, control, and limit inflammatory responses would open the door to unprecedented medical advances, both in harnessing the host immune system in eradicating infection and in reducing the substantial burden of acute and chronic inflammatory diseases.

Students will gain a broad range of training in outstanding basic science in world-class facilities in the Mechanisms of Inflammatory Disease programme, endorsed and funded by The Wellcome Trust.

  • An MRes programme in the first year will train and enhance laboratory skills and scientific understanding including rotations in an overseas laboratory (Calgary, Marseilles or Melbourne)
  • Students will select their PhD project/supervisors at the end of Year 1 drawing on their research placement experiences and submitted projects.  All projects will be overseen by a supervisory team which will include their supervisors and a minimum of two other researchers with relevant experience.
  • A unique feature of the program is that, following thesis submission, all students will be able to apply for an additional 9 months of funding to complete outstanding publications and/or apply for independent postdoctoral fellowships.

Application Information

The programme is relevant to students with a good degree (equivalent to first / high 2:1; or distinction in masters programmes) from within the UK / EU with an interest in inflammation-based research including protein structure, signal transduction, cell signalling, mathematical modelling, bio-engineering, cell biology, organ pathology (e.g. cardiovascular, respiratory, ocular etc), infection, animal models and clinical studies. It is suitable for students at the interface of the biological and physical scientists with an interest areas such as mathematical modelling and advanced imaging. 

Please note that applicants are not expected to make contact with specific academic supervisors on the programme prior to application. 

For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Graham Wallace: G.R.Wallace@bham.ac.uk