PhD Studentship - What Keeps the Gut Stem Cell Niche Healthy? (SOBOLEWSKI_U18DTP)

University of East Anglia - Pharmacy

Start Date: 1st October 2018

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Dr Anastasia Sobolewski

Project description: A normal functioning epithelium is vital for a healthy gut. The epithelium forms a protective barrier between the bacteria and food contents in the intestine and the underlying immune system, so preventing an immune response. Renewal takes place through division of epithelial stem cells, which change into other epithelial cell types (e.g. absorptive enterocytes) that are necessary for the gut to function normally. There is a lack of knowledge as to what regulates renewal at the epithelial stem cell niche.

We have shown that the epithelial layer ‘auto regulates’ (autocrine signalling) its growth through interleukin 6 signalling at the stem cell niche (Jeffery et al.  2017), and that immune cells (monocytes/macrophages) can modulate epithelial stem cells and regulate epithelial renewal (Skoczek et al. 2014) i.e. paracrine.

This project will determine the role of IL-6 autocrine and paracrine signalling in stem cell driven renewal of the colonic epithelium. Colon homeostasis is pertinent to study as it is the major site for the development of ulcerative colitis and colon cancer. The objectives of this PhD are to;

  1. i) Characterise the effects of IL-6 on epithelial stem cells and epithelial renewal
  2. ii) Determine the role of IL-6 autocrine signalling in the epithelium

iii) Investigate the role of the IL-6 signalling pathway in immune cell regulation of the epithelium

The student will be trained in primary gut stem cell / ‘mini gut’ colonoid culture and co-culture with macrophages. They will gain expertise in confocal and time-lapse microscopy, flow cytometry, PCR, FACS and image software analysis. The student will present their work at research seminars, International Conferences, attend a bioimaging workshop and join the East Anglian British Society of Immunology Group.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 9th, 10th or 11th January 2018.

The Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website: www.biodtp.norwichresearchpark.ac.uk

Person specification: Standard minimum entry requirements: UK 2:1 or equivalent.

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,553pa – 2017/8), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements. Details on eligibility for funding on the BBSRC website: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/web/FILES/Guidelines/studentship_eligibility.pdf

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

South East England