Dr William Jenkinson PhD

William Jenkinson

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 Dr William Jenkinson directly, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email mds-gradschool@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

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


Recent publications


White, AJ, Parnell, SM, Handel, A, Maio, S, Bacon, A, Cosway, EJ, Lucas, B, James, KD, Cowan, JE, Jenkinson, WE, Hollander, GA & Anderson, G 2023, 'Diversity in Cortical Thymic Epithelial Cells Occurs through Loss of a Foxn1-Dependent Gene Signature Driven by Stage-Specific Thymocyte Cross-Talk', Journal of Immunology, vol. 210, no. 1, pp. 40-49. https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.2200609

Cosway, EJ, James, KD, White, AJ, Parnell, SM, Bacon, A, McKenzie, ANJ, Jenkinson, WE & Anderson, G 2023, 'The alarmin IL33 orchestrates type 2 immune-mediated control of thymus regeneration', Nature Communications, vol. 14, no. 1, 7201. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-43072-x

James, KD, White, AJ, Jenkinson, WE & Anderson, G 2023, 'The medulla controls effector primed γδT-cell development in the adult mouse thymus', European Journal of Immunology, vol. 53, no. 6, e2350388. https://doi.org/10.1002/eji.202350388

Cosway, EJ, White, AJ, Parnell, SM, Schweighoffer, E, Jolin, HE, Bacon, A, Rodewald, HR, Tybulewicz, V, McKenzie, ANJ, Jenkinson, WE & Anderson, G 2022, 'Eosinophils are an essential element of a type 2 immune axis that controls thymus regeneration', Science Immunology, vol. 7, no. 69, eabn3286. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciimmunol.abn3286

Maneta, E, Fultang, L, Taylor, J, Pugh, M, Jenkinson, W, Anderson, G, Coomarasamy, A, Kilby, MD, Lissauer, DM, Mussai, F & De Santo, C 2022, 'G-CSF induces CD15+ CD14+ cells from granulocytes early in the physiological environment of pregnancy and the cancer immunosuppressive microenvironment', Clinical and Translational Immunology, vol. 11, no. 5, e1395. https://doi.org/10.1002/cti2.1395

James, KD, Legler, DF, Purvanov, V, Ohigashi, I, Takahama, Y, Parnell, SM, White, AJ, Jenkinson, WE & Anderson, G 2021, 'Medullary stromal cells synergize their production and capture of CCL21 for T-cell emigration from neonatal mouse thymus', Blood Advances, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 99-112. https://doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2020003192

Cowan, JE, Baik, S, McCarthy, NI, Parnell, SM, White, AJ, Jenkinson, WE & Anderson, G 2018, 'Aire controls the recirculation of murine Foxp3+ regulatory T-cells back to the thymus', European Journal of Immunology, vol. 48, no. 5, pp. 844-854. https://doi.org/10.1002/eji.201747375

Jones, R, Cosway, E, Willis, C, White, A, Jenkinson, W, Fehling, HJ, Anderson, G & Withers, D 2018, 'Dynamic changes in intrathymic ILC populations during murine neonatal development', European Journal of Immunology, vol. 48, no. 9, pp. 1481-1491. https://doi.org/10.1002/eji.201847511

James, KD, Cosway, EJ, Lucas, B, White, AJ, Parnell, SM, Carvalho-Gaspar, M, Tumanov, AV, Anderson, G & Jenkinson, WE 2018, 'Endothelial cells act as gatekeepers for LTβR-dependent thymocyte emigration', The Journal of Experimental Medicine, vol. 215, no. 12, pp. 2984-2993. https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20181345

Cosway, E, Ohigashi, I, Schauble, K, Parnell, S, Jenkinson, W, Luther, SA, Takahama, Y & Anderson, G 2018, 'Formation of the Intrathymic Dendritic Cell Pool Requires CCL21-Mediated Recruitment of CCR7+ Progenitors to the Thymus', Journal of Immunology, vol. 201, no. 2, pp. 516-523. https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1800348

White, AJ, Baik, S, Parnell, SM, Holland, AM, Brombacher, F, Jenkinson, WE & Anderson, G 2017, 'A type 2 cytokine axis for thymus emigration', The Journal of Experimental Medicine, vol. 214, no. 8, pp. 2205–2216. https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20170271

Lucas, B, White, AJ, Parnell, SM, Henley, PM, Jenkinson, WE & Anderson, G 2017, 'Progressive Changes in CXCR4 Expression That Define Thymocyte Positive Selection Are Dispensable For Both Innate and Conventional αβT-cell Development', Scientific Reports, vol. 7, no. 1, 5068. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-05182-7

Review article

James, KD, Jenkinson, WE & Anderson, G 2021, 'Non-Epithelial Stromal Cells in Thymus Development and Function', Frontiers in immunology, vol. 12, 634367. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2021.634367

White, A, Lucas, B, Jenkinson, W & Anderson, G 2018, 'Invariant NKT Cells and Control of the Thymus Medulla', Journal of Immunology, vol. 200, no. 10, pp. 3333-3339. https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1800120

James, KD, Jenkinson, WE & Anderson, G 2018, 'T-cell egress from the thymus: should I stay or should I go?', Journal of Leukocyte Biology, vol. 104, no. 2, pp. 275-284. https://doi.org/10.1002/JLB.1MR1217-496R

View all publications in research portal