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PhD Studentship - NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre - The Epigenetics of Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare

Newcastle University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £18,622 - please see advert
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 5th February 2024
Closes: 15th March 2024
Reference: BIO82

Award summary

100% tuition fees (paid at home rate) and a minimum annual stipend of £18,622 (2023/ 2024 UKRI rate) with support for research costs. International candidates will be required to fund the difference between the home and international fees. 

Overview

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a genetically complex disease in which CD4+ T cells contribute to immune-mediated inflammatory arthritis that relapses and remits. With modern disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), a few patients enter and stay in clinical remission even after treatment withdrawal, but biomarkers for predicting this are lacking. We established the BIOlogical Factors that Limit sustained Remission in rheumatoid arthritis study (BIO-FLARE; MRC) in which 116 RA patients in stable remission stopped DMARDs and were monitored, either until they flared (n=57) or for 6 months for those remaining in drug-free remission (DFR; n= 59). Parallel longitudinal bio-sampling for nucleic acid extraction, serum cytokine and cellular proteomics was undertaken. With sample size informed by recent work identifying dynamic changes in DNA methylation associated with treatment response in RA, this studentship builds on our own experience investigating molecular mechanisms of CD4+ T cell dysregulation.  

Aims and objectives. 

This project aims to address the following objectives:  

  1. To identify differentially methylated CpGs at baseline and/or those at which methylation is differentially altered over time in CD4+ T cells of RA patients who subsequently flare versus those who do not. 
  2. Employing CD4+ T cell gene expression, flow cytometry and serum cytokine data obtained at paired time points, to undertake an integrated analysis that provides biological context to epigenetic findings. 
  3. To validate key findings using alternative technologies/independent patient donors to highlight pathways involved in flare. 

Number of awards: 1

Start date: October 2024

Award duration: 36 months

Sponsor: NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre 

Supervisors

Dr Louise N Reynard 

Dr Arthur Pratt 

Dr Amy Anderson 

Dr Ken Baker 

Professor John Isaacs 

Eligibility criteria

You must have or be expected to gain a minimum 2:1 Honours degree or international equivalent in a subject relevant to the proposed PhD project.

Applicants whose first language is not English require an IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each subsection. International applicants may require an ATAS clearance certificate prior to obtaining their visa and to study on this programme.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s Apply to Newcastle Portal

In ‘Course choice’ tab, put ‘Postgraduate Research’ in 'Type of Study', ‘Full Time’ in ‘Mode of Study’, ‘2024’ in ‘Year of Entry’, code ‘8420F’ in ‘Course Title’, blank in ‘Research Area’. Press ‘Search’, select ‘PhD Biosciences (FT)’, and save selection.

Either upload a document or write into ‘Personal Statement’. Put code ‘BIO82’ in ‘Studentship/Partnership Reference’. When prompted for research proposal, select ‘Write Proposal’. Type in the title of the research project from this advert. A research proposal is not required. You can also upload a covering letter and CV, please state how your interests and experience relate to the project.

Degree transcripts/certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualification if completed must be uploaded.  

Contact details

louise.reynard@newcastle.ac.uk

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