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Effect of Hypoxia (Low Oxygen) on Macrophage Gene Expression - Development of New Hypoxia Targeted Gene Therapy Strategies

Eligibility: UK/EU/International

Award Details: Self-funded

Duration: Full Time - 3 years fixed term

Application deadline: This opportunity will only remain open until a suitable candidate is identified- early application is therefore advised. Standard University research application closing dates apply.

Informal enquiries are essential before application; contact Dr. Bernard Burke to discuss this opportunity.

Congratulations on taking your first steps toward a Research Degree with Coventry’s Faculty of Engineering, Environment and Computing. As an ambitious and innovative University, we’re investing an initial £100m into our new research strategy, ‘Excellence with Impact’. Through original approaches from world-leading experts, we’re aiming for our research to make a tangible difference to the way we live. As a research student you are an integral part of Coventry’s lively and diverse research community and contribute to our reputation for excellence. With our exceptional facilities and superb support mechanisms you are afforded every opportunity for academic success.

The Project

Macrophages are white blood cells (leukocytes) which accumulate in hypoxic diseased sites such as cancer, atherosclerotic plaques, arthritic joints, infarcted heart tissue after heart attacks, and also in Tuberculosis granulomas. Recently it has been discovered that the hypoxia (low oxygen levels) present at such sites plays a vital role in these diseases.

Hypoxia and ischaemia (poor blood flow) alter the phenotype of macrophages in a way that can promote development of disease, for example by causing the macrophage to secrete pro-inflammatory and pro-angiogenic (blood vessel growth stimulating) proteins. However the range of genes upregulated and functions carried out by macrophages in such hypoxic tissues are not fully understood.

A greater understanding of the role macrophages play in disease processes will enable the development of strategies to block their ability to carry out pro-disease functions, in order to slow disease progression. An additional, alternative strategy has also been proposed: to make use of the tendency of macrophages to accumulate in diseased sites to use them as delivery systems to carry therapeutic molecules, such as gene therapy DNA constructs, into these sites.

This project will use the latest Molecular Biology techniques to investigate the responses of human macrophages to hypoxia, including such techniques as Real-Time RT PCR, Promoter / reporter gene analysis, and Western Blotting. The information obtained from these initial experiments will then be used to design, implement and test novel gene therapy strategies with a view to designing a Gene Therapy procedure to improve the outcome of diseases associated with hypoxia and macrophage accumulation.

This project would suit someone with an enquiring mind who wants to contribute to improvements in human health. Some knowledge of Molecular Biology and Cell Culture would be an advantage, although full training will be provided, both by the supervisor and the Department.

About the Centre/Department

The Centre of Applied Biological & Exercise Sciences furthers the understanding of fundamental biological pathways and processes; applying biological sciences to advance diagnosis and prevention of disease. This project will support theme 1 within the ABES centre, which focusses on cellular & molecular systems.

Successful Applicants

Successful applicants will have:

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area (e.g. chemistry, biochemistry, electrochemistry) with a minimum 60% mark in the Project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.
  • or in the event of a first degree classification of less than 2:1, a Masters Degree in a relevant subject area (see above) will be considered as an equivalent. The Masters must have been attained with overall marks at merit level (60%). In addition, the dissertation or equivalent element in the Masters must also have been attained with a mark at merit level (60%).
  • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a three-year period of study.
  • a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).

Additionally:

  • Knowledge of molecular biology and cell culture.

Eligibility & Application Procedure

Eligibility:

All UK/EU students are eligible to apply that meet the academic requirements, the eligibility criteria can be found making an application page.