4-year Impact PhD Studentship - Respiratory diseases

A 4-year Impact PhD Studentship is available within Respiratory, Critical Care and Anaesthesia section, UCL Institute of Child Health. This impact studentship is jointly funded between UCL and GSK and we are looking for an outstanding young scientist work with our teams.

The studentship will commence during the summer of 2015. They will be under the supervision of Professor Chris O’Callaghan, with additional supervision from Dr John Hurst and Professor Steve Hart. The successful candidate will join the Respiratory Group at the Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. The project brings together experts from UCL and GSK who have a strong interest in the biology of cilia in respiratory disease.

The purpose of the proposed investigation

The project will explore the association of the respiratory diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), with chronic infection and inflammation.

Previous experience in microbiology/virology and molecular biology would be advantageous.

If you have any queries regarding the vacancy or the application process, please contact,  Philippa Cottam quoting job reference 1479942.

To apply, please send a current CV including the contact details of two professional referees as well as a cover letter to Philippa Cottam.

Interviews for this post will be held week commencing 27th July 2015.

Deadline for receipt of applications: 24th July 2015

Project Description: Impaired ciliary function and inflammation of airway epithelium

Professor Chris O’Callaghan, Dr John Hurst & Professor Steve Hart: UCL

This impact studentship is funded jointly by UCL and GSK. It brings teams from both organisations together with a strong interest in the biology of cilia in respiratory disease. The successful candidate will be based at the Institute of Child Health in Prof Chris O’Callaghan’s laboratory but they will also have access to specialist laboratories at GSK. Joint meetings will be held between the groups at UCL and leading scientists from GSK throughout the PhD.

Each of the millions of cilia lining that line the respiratory epithelium of the nose, sinuses and airways beat over a million times a day to clear mucus, cellular debris, inhaled particles and pathogens from the lungs. There is increasing evidence of profound disturbances in ciliary function in a number of respiratory diseases such as cystic fibrosis. More recently profound abnormalities of ciliary function has been found in severe asthma (J Allergy Clin Immunol 2010;126(4):722-729). Similarly patients with Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD) have defects of ciliary function that impair mucociliary clearance leading to chronic respiratory infection, lung damage, sinusitis and in many defective hearing.

It is believed that abnormal ciliary function predisposes to infection with associated inflammation. The current project examines the relationship between abnormal ciliary function and inflammation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and PCD and the effect of viral infection. Novel systems to investigate inflammation and causes of inflammation have been developed that will be used in this project. The project has the added benefit of using ciliated cell cultures from well phenotyped patients with COPD and PCD. Studies will also include the use of RNA interference in healthy cells targeting genes that are known to inhibit ciliary function.

Methods used will include air-liquid interface cell culture, high speed video microscopy, ciliary beat pattern and frequency analysis, cytokine, chemokine & nitric oxide analysis, RNA interference, gene expression, aerosol drug delivery, tissue stimulation, confocal microscopy and electron microscopy.