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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Professor Karlheinz Peter and Dr Jonathan Noonan

Project summary

Our research focuses on understanding the immunological mechanisms that drive inflammation in cardiovascular diseases. In doing so, we aim to facilitate the development and implementation of effective anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating therapies for patients with cardiovascular disease.

Atherosclerosis is a disease characterised by the formation of chronically inflamed lipid laden plaques in medium and large arteries, such as those that supply the heart and brain with blood. The rupture of these plaques causes blood clots which can block these arteries, and is the primary cause of myocardial infarction (heart attacks), strokes, and the majority of cardiovascular disease mortality.

Despite recognition that inflammation is a key feature of atherosclerosis and the most likely cause of plaque rupture, it is not fully understood what drives the chronicity of pro-atherosclerotic immune responses. With a particular focus on the adaptive immune system (T&B cells); we aim to deeply characterise the immune landscape in atherosclerosis using state-of-the-art technologies, identify the causes of immune dysregulation and chronic atherosclerotic inflammation and define the role these pathways play in the development and outcome of cardiovascular disease.

In this research we will use techniques such as flow cytometry, cell culture, immunofluorescent, microscopy, immunohistochemistry, intravital and multiphoton microscopy, bulk and single cell RNA sequencing and, bulk and single cell ATAC sequencing.

There is the opportunity to pursue several avenues for research projects, including:

  • Deep characterisation of adaptive immune responses in human and murine cardiovascular disease.
  • Defining the role of sexual dimorphism in the immune response in cardiovascular disease.
  • The role of conventional vs unconventional T cells in atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction.
  • Modulating adaptive immunity for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Related methods, skills or technologies

This project is suitable for a PhD student and will involve the application of immunocytochemistry, flowcytometry, interventions, animal models, molecular biology and data analysis.

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