The role of NF-KB in tumour-associated dendritic cells

The role of NF-KB in tumour-associated dendritic cells

Eligibility: UK/EU/International graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/EU/International)

Duration: Full-time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 29th May 2020

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2020

For queries contact Dr Jason Bennett.


Despite clinical successes obtained with cancer immunotherapy, challenges remain as the majority of cancer patients rarely exhibit an objective response to these therapies. In part this is due to immunosuppressive mechanisms in innate immune cells residing in the tumour microenvironment (TME) that enable tumours to evade immune attack. A logical approach to extend the benefit of immunotherapies to the broader cancer patient population would be to “boost” innate immune cell activation in the TME by identifying and blocking immunoinhibitory “brake” mechanisms. Recently, a macrophage-specific immune “checkpoint” mediated by the NF-κB-regulated protein, Gadd45β, was discovered. GADD45β functions as a non-enzymatic modulator that restrains pro-inflammatory signalling in tumour-associated macrophages, thereby blocking TME-based inflammation and subsequent cytotoxic T-cell recruitment into the tumour.

This project will test the hypothesis that Gadd45β’s immunosuppressive function extends to dendritic cells (DCs). DCs are antigen-presenting cells and play a central role in anti-tumour immunity by priming T cells to attack cancer cells. The immunosuppressive role of Gadd45β will be investigated in DCs in vitro and these findings will provide further of proof that by boosting the innate immune system, Gadd45β-targeting agents could represent the key to unlocking the full potential of immune checkpoint inhibitors currently in the clinic.


Fully funded PhD studentship, which includes tuition fees for 3.5 years.

Costs associated with bench fees, consumables, publications and conferences are covered by the CSELS.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities. All techniques and equipment necessary for the successful completion of this project have been mastered in the proposing lab. The student selected for this project will develop invaluable skill sets in experimental genetics (RNAi, CRISPR-Cas9 technology), cell biology, organisational and time management while also making a significant contribution to the development of a new innate immunotherapy drug. This combined skill set will make the candidate a highly desirable recruitment prospect for future academic and industrial employers.

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years
  • A minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)
  • Excellent organisational and administrative skills including a proven ability to work to deadlines. Ability to juggle priorities in the face of competing demands and tight deadlines.
  • Excellent communication skills (oral, written, presentation etc).
  • Evidence of practical experience in cell and molecular biology (experience in cell culture, flow cytometry, gene silencing and transfection are particularly desirable).
  • Computer literate with a good knowledge of different computer programs with experience in data presentation and statistical analyses.
  • Willingness to undertake any necessary training for the role.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and willingness to work as part of a team and to be open-minded and cooperative.
Apply to Coventry University

How to apply

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Jason Bennett.

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.