PhD position (Ageing & Disease): Immune Cell Metabolism & Cell Fate Decisions
Thinking of doing your PhD in the Life Sciences? The International PhD Programme (IPP) on Gene Regulation, Epigenetics & Genome Stability is offering talented students the chance to work at the cutting edge of research. As an IPP PhD student, you will join a community of exceptional scientists working on diverse topics ranging from how organisms age or how our DNA is repaired, to how epigenetics regulates cellular identity or neural memory.
Activities and responsibilities:
In the field of “Ageing & Disease”, the IPP research group of Prof. Luciana Berod offers the following PhD project:
Our immune system works in an orchestrated manner to protect us against pathogens and foreign substances. Failure of this system leads to chronic infection, autoimmune diseases or cancer. In our group “Immunomodulation” at the Paul Klein Center for Immune intervention at the UMC, we investigate how immune cells can be influenced by changes in metabolism and how metabolic pathways can be targeted for therapeutic purposes. Additionally, we study how metabolism influences posttranslational modifications in immune cells and thus influences immune cell function. The focus of our work is the balance between regulatory T cells and inflammatory T cells and their activation by dendritic cells in different infection, cancer and autoimmune disease models. In this context, we have previously demonstrated that the development of Th17 cells depends on de novo fatty acid synthesis (FAS), and that this pathway has therapeutic potential in autoimmune diseases and GvHD. In addition, we showed that activation of the FAS pathway in T cells also has implications during infection, in which excessive protective immune responses can lead to unwanted tissue destruction. Recently, we published new studies on how fatty acid metabolism influences other immune cell subsets such as Tregs or dendritic cells.
PhD Project: Immune Cell Metabolism & Cell Fate Decisions
The interplay among dietary metabolites, the gut commensal microbiota, and the immune system is intimate and complex. Dietary intake of soluble fiber leads to their fermentation by commensal bacteria to short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in the gut. SCFAs have multiple effects on the colonic epithelium and are known to be an important energy source. Additionally, SCFAs can promote the differentiation of colonic Treg cells. However, how exactly SCFAs affect the function of other immune cells has yet to be elucidated. SCFAs can act as histone deacetylase inhibitors or bind and signal through G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), such as the Free Fatty Acid Receptor 2 (Ffar2/Gpr43). Yet, due to the lack of appropriate models, the cell-type specific effects of Ffar2 have not been investigated. Thus, the aim of this project is to evaluate the specific contribution of SCFAs on the balance of tolerance versus immunity, particularly focusing on Dendritic cells (DCs). For this, we will use the novel Ffar2 conditional knockout mice to unveil the in vivo effect of SCFAs and discover new potential therapeutic targets.
What we offer:
Are you an ambitious, young scientist looking to push the boundaries of science while interacting with colleagues from multiple disciplines and cultures? Then the IPP is your opportunity to give your scientific career a flying start!
All you need is:
For more details on the projects offered and how to apply via our online form, please visit https://www.imb.de/phd
The deadline for registration is 26 November 2021. Interviews will take place online 17-19 January 2022.
Starting date: 1 March 2022 – 1 September 2022
Tagged as: Life Sciences
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