PhD Research Project: The role of hepatic epithelia in the resolution of human liver inflammation:
Supervisor 3: Dr Aloysious Aravinthan (Associate Professor, Liver senescence, University of Nottingham. Honorary Consultant Hepatologist at the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust)
The liver is the only internal organ with the remarkable ability to regenerate, however this is impaired in end stage chronic liver diseases (CLDs). Chronic injury leads to the recruitment of immune cells in the liver, which propagate inflammation. Regeneration during injury is driven by hepatocytes, yet the mechanism is poorly understood. We use the latest imaging technologies to elucidate the role of hepatocytes and immune cell-hepatocyte interactions in human liver inflammation, in the context of new therapeutics.
CLDs are complex diseases that contribute markedly to the global burden of morbidity and mortality, and their incidence is projected to rise. In the UK CLD are the 5th most common cause of death and affect >2 million people. Regardless of aetiology (autoimmunity, viral infections, alcohol, fatty diet), CLD can lead to fibrosis, cancer and/or gradual liver destruction requiring a transplant. Liver cancer is one of the two types of cancer with mortality rates projected to rise by 2030. There is a pressing need for the discovery of therapeutics that will reduce liver damage, to prevent cancer and liver failure.
We are based in one of the largest transplant centres in Europe, and have access to tissues from over 200 liver transplants a year. This places us in the best position to make the most of cells and tissues from authentic human liver diseases. The student will access the state-of-the-art Imaging facilities at the recently formed partnership for The Centre of Membrane Proteins and Receptors (COMPARE), which brings together the latest super resolution and high content imaging microscopes at the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham. The student will have access to our existing comprehensive training postgraduate programmes and will be part of a cohort of MRC iCASE funded PhD students that develop strong links with industrial partners.
The student will have the opportunity to liaise with clinicians, scientists and industrial collaborators and will work with human liver specimens to test the efficacy of therapeutic interventions for their ability to promote liver regeneration in the context of authentic human liver diseases. This work will increase our understanding of end stage liver diseases, the resolution of inflammation and hepatic regeneration.
Applicants should have a strong background in biology, molecular biology, immunology or biochemistry, and ideally a background in cell biology or immunology. They should have a commitment to research in biomedical sciences and hold or realistically expect to obtain at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a relevant subject.
This is an MRC iCASE studentship. The successful applicant will receive a stipend, tuition fees will be paid and will have access to funds for a laptop. Further information is available at https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/mds-graduate-school/scholarships/mrc-impact/index.aspx
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