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Swansea University Research Excellence Scholarships (SURES): Fully Funded PhD Scholarship: Manipulating Immune Cell Metabolism to Improve the Outcome of Peritonitis

Swansea University - Microbiology and Immunology

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Swansea
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £18,622 p.a.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 31st May 2024
Closes: 14th June 2024

Funding providers: Swansea University

Subject areas: Immunology, Metabolism, Cell biology, Kidney Disease

Project start date: 

  • 1 July 2024 (Enrolment open from mid-June)

Project description:  

Peritoneal Dialysis (PD), an effective treatment for Chronic Kidney Disease, can result in serious complications, such as immune cell-driven inflammation (peritonitis). The metabolism of immune cells is now known to be crucial for cell phenotype and inflammation. Hence, the manipulation of metabolism is key to both prevent and treat disease. As part of an MRC grant (May 2024-April 2028), we will define the metabolic changes in PD/PD peritonitis, the effect this has on immune cell function, and whether manipulation of cell metabolism can improve PD and resolve peritonitis. While some key research questions are addressed in this project, there remain many unexplored, yet related molecular mechanisms. For example, data from myself and co-investigator (Nick Jones) highlighted differential utilisation of the metabolic pathways for fuelling cytokine production in immune cells, which can be specifically manipulated through alteration of metabolite environments or metabolic programming.

Aim/Question: How can we alter the metabolism of immune cells to reduce peritoneal inflammation?

Specific objectives:

  1. Determine how alternative metabolic fuels (lactate/ß-hydroxybutyrate/inosine) effect immune cell metabolism and function (e.g. using extracellular-flux-analysis, flow-cytometry, ELISA)
  2. Dissect the role of the malate-aspartate-shuttle vs the TCA-cycle for immune cell functions (e.g. using 13C6-tracing metabolomics and CRISPR)

Outcome: This project will improve knowledge and identify new therapeutic strategies to treat peritonitis.

Eligibility

Candidates must have attained, or must be expected to attain, a first-class honours degree and/or a distinction at master’s level.  

  • Where applicants have multiple master’s degrees, a distinction must be held in the degree that is most relevant to the intended PhD study. 
  • If you are currently studying for a master’s level qualification with an expected award date that is later than 01/07/2024, you should hold a minimum of an upper-second-class (2:1) honours degree.   
  • You should be able to demonstrate a pass with a minimum grade average of at least 70% for your part-one master’s degree modules (the taught aspect of your master’s course rather than a research-focused dissertation) and submit your dissertation by no later than 30/06/2024.  

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to applicants eligible to pay tuition fees at the UK rate only, as defined by UKCISA regulations.

Additional Funding Information

This scholarship covers the full cost of UK tuition fees and an annual stipend of £18,622.

Additional research expenses will also be available.

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