MRC CASE studentship

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Amar Annamalai
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MRC CASE studentship

MRC CASE studentship: Crosstalk between stromal cells and immune cells during obesity-induced inflammation

University of Birmingham - School of Immunity & Infection, College of Medical & Dental Sciences

Qualification type:


Funding for:
UK Students

Funding amount:
Not specified

Full Time

Placed on:
16th February 2015

27th February 2015

Lead Supervisor:
Dr Jorge Caamano

Project duration:
4 years

Funded by:
MRC and MedImmune

Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD studentship within a multidisciplinary and integrative research team.

Obesity is among the main health problems affecting the Western world and the developing countries with a major impact on lifelong health quality. Obesity is characterized by chronic low level of inflammation that predisposes the patients to develop type-two diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. Recent results indicate that the presence of specific types of immune cells expressing Th2 factors contribute to the homeostasis of adipose tissues in lean animals. In contrast, a different group of immune cells that express pro-inflammatory Th1 factors is present in fat during obesity and thus contributes to inflammation and the development of the diseases mentioned above. Thus, the importance of research in understanding the interplay between adipose tissues and the immune system and the mechanisms underlying obesity cannot be overstated. The challenge is to uncover what attracts and retains the Th2 cells in adipose tissues, and to understand the interactions between such cells and adipocytes. Dissecting the basic mechanisms of interaction between immune and non-immune cells in adipose tissues will aid the identification of putative therapeutic targets to break the links between obesity, inflammation and chronic inflammatory diseases.

The aim of this studentship is to characterize the interactions between stromal cells and immune cells in adipose tissues during obesity-induced inflammation, with particular attention to Type 2 Innate Lymphoid cells (ILC2), and T helper 2 (Th2) cells and the factors that these cells produce that contribute to the homeostasis of adipose tissues. The characterization of these cells in disease models and human samples will be employed during this project. Our group has previously shown the importance of the interactions between stromal and immune cells in adipose tissues (Benezech et al., Immunity 2012. 37(4): 721-734).

This is an exciting opportunity for an enthusiastic individual to experience research in an emerging field of immunology. The successful applicant will receive excellent training in basic in vivo research and benefit from both academic and industrial supervisors. The project includes a fully funded placement for up to 6 months with MedImmune (Cambridge, UK). 

Person Specification

Applicants should have a strong background in Immunology. They should have a commitment to basic in vivo research and hold or realistically expect to obtain at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a relevant subject. This position is fully funded for university fees and a stipend at standard RCUK rate (for an October 2015 start). The industrial partner, MedImmune provides a stipend top-up of £2,500 per annum.

Due to the funding attached to this studentship, we are only able to accept application from UK nationals.

How to apply

Enquiries or applications including a CV, names and addresses of two referees and a covering letter should be sent to Vikki Harrison, School of Immunity & Infection, Institute of Biomedical Research, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT or email