Wellcome Trust Four Year PhD Programme in Inflammation (2018 entry)

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 Professors Steve Watson (Medical School) and Robin May (Biosciences).



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. 


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


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 (Jan-June) one of which may be technology driven.

The students will select a third project during Jul-Aug; either in the University of Birmingham or at one of our international strategic partners (including Calgary and Melbourne, 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.  


Graham Anderson Foxp3+ Regulatory T-cells and tolerance
Alexander Brill Role of immune system in thrombosis
Christopher Buckley What determines tissue tropism in chronic inflammation: A key role for fibroblasts
Jorge Caamano Inflammation-induced formation of lymphoid tissues
Andrew Clark

Mechanisms of resolution of inflammation

Helen Cooper

Application of novel proteomic methodology to inflammation

Adam Cunningham Impact of infection on immune regulation and function

Giorgos Gkoutas

Clinical and biomedical informatics, computational biology, and integrative and translational research in human disease
Rebecca Hall Influence of polymicrobial communities on inflammation
Rowan Hardy The role of steroid metabolism in chronic inflammatory disease
Ian Henderson The role of antibody in inflammatory damage of the lung
Gideon Hirschfield Immunologic and cellular aspects of liver injury, repair and therapy
Sara Jabbari Understanding host-pathogen interactions using mathematical modelling combined with experimental data
Neena Kalia Stem cell trafficking and vasculoprotective effects
Patricia Lalor Role of inflammation in chronic liver disease in humans
Gareth Lavery NAD+ salvage and energy metabolism in ageing skeletal muscle
 Janet Lord The role of immune ageing in age-related musculoskeletal decline and disease
Robin May Phagocytic cells in inflammation and infection
Helen McGettrick Mesenchymal stromal cell regulation of the inflammatory infiltrate

Alan McNally

Evolutionary genomics of pathogenesis and antimicrobial resistance in bacterial pathogens
Paula Mendes Development of diagnostic molecular-based technologies and nanoscale and molecular probes to monitor and control processes occurring within cells
Tim Mitchell Pathogenesis of bacterial infections
Philip Newsome Stromal cell modulation of liver inflammation
Ed Rainger Novel immune regulatory peptides in autoimmune and chronic inflammatory disease / Thrombo-inflammatory cross talk in the propagation of vascular disease.
Elizabeth Sapey Neutrophillic inflammation in chronic inflammatory lung disease and ageing
Dagmar Scheel-Toellner Investigating the contribution of a novel B cell population to inflammatory diseases
David Thickett Pathophysiology of inflammatory and fibrotic lung diseases
Graham Wallace Investigating the genetic and molecular basic of immune privilege in the eye, and its breakdown during inflammatory disease
Steve Watson The molecular events underlying the role of platelets in inflammation and cardiovascular disease
Benjamin Willcox Understanding and exploiting immune receptor recognition
David Withers Innate lymphoid cell regulation of adaptive immune responses

David Wraith

T cell biology in autoimmunity and immunotherapy

How to apply

Applications for the October 2018 intake to the Wellcome Trust “Mechanism of Inflammatory Disease” Training Programme are now open

Apply now

The closing date for applications is 11pm on Sunday 7th January 2018.

Interviews will take place on Thursday 25th or Friday 26th January 2018.

Applicants should have an interest in inflammation-based research. This can be from across the biological sciences or at the interface of the biological and physical sciences in areas such as mathematical modelling, computational biology and bio-engineering. You should have a commitment to inflammation biology research and hold or realistically expect to obtain at least a good Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a relevant subject. 

The studentships are awarded on a 1+3 basis with the first year consisting of an MRes “Mechanisms of Inflammatory Disease” which will train and enhance your laboratory skills and scientific understanding. 

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

Apply now

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