The effect of autoimmunity on post-myocardial infarction electrophysiological remodelling
British Heart Foundation - Imperial Centre for Translational and Experimental Medicine (ICTEM) 4-year MRes/PhD Studentship, Imperial College London
Call for Applications for October 2018
Project title: The effect of autoimmunity on post-myocardial infarction electrophysiological remodelling.
Applications are invited for a British Heart Foundation (BHF) 4 year MRes/PhD studentship starting in October 2018 at the Imperial Centre for Translational and Experimental Medicine (ICTEM), Hammersmith Campus. The studentships are fully funded through a BHF training grant made to Professor Sian Harding and it will cover tuition fees (at the Home/EU rate) and a tax-free stipend starting from £22,278 per annum for a total of 4 years. In addition, there is a consumable allowance of £50,000 and £1000 travel award per studentship.
The Cardiovascular Sections of the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, have been united in the new state-of-the art Imperial College Centre for Translational and Experimental Medicine, where they join collaborators such as the MRC Genetics and Genomics Unit. The present scheme takes advantage of new adjacencies with jointly supervised projects to explore novel areas in cardiovascular and stem cell science.
Imperial College London provides excellent opportunities for research student training. All students benefit from a full programme of training in research and transferable skills organised through the Graduate School, the quality of which has been recognised several times at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards.
The BHF 4-year MRes/PhD studentships at ICTEM typically comprises a 1-year MRes in Biomedical Research, followed by a 3-year PhD. During the MRes year, students undertake two laboratory projects which will prepare them for the Ph.D.
This highly inter-disciplinary project will investigate the effects of immune auto-reactivity against the heart on cardiac function and cardiac electrophysiology in the post-myocardial infarction heart.
After acute myocardial infarction (MI), an inflammatory response removes necrotic debris and orchestrates healing, leading to scar formation. The involvement of innate immune cells including neutrophils and macrophages in early inflammation and initiation of the wound healing after MI has been thoroughly investigated. By contrast, the role of the adaptive immune system is still largely unexplored. There is evidence that healing after MI is impaired by the induction of an autoimmune response as demonstrated by the presence of auto-reactive T cells and antibodies against cardiac proteins in mouse models. Autoimmunity has also been shown to have direct electrophysiological effects, and pathogenic autoantibodies against ion channels have been detected in patients with autoimmune disease, resulting in increased arrhythmia susceptibility.
How autoimmunity modulates post-MI healing and the electrophysiological phenotype has not been systematically investigated. Although exacerbated in systemic autoimmunity, the underlying mechanisms of immune-mediated tissue damage and electrophysiological remodelling post-MI are likely comparable in healthy and autoimmune individuals, and therapeutic approaches targeting the adaptive immune system may benefit both.
This PhD will investigate the effect of autoimmunity on the post-myocardial infarction immune response and electrophysiological remodeling and has the following three aims:
- Characterise functional and morphological effects of autoimmunity on the post-MI heart
- Investigate electrophysiological remodelling in post-MI hearts in autoimmunity
- Identify the role and potential therapeutic benefit of targeting the adaptive immune system post-MI
The successful candidate will be based at the Ng, Sattler and Rosenthal labs at the Hammersmith Campus for a period of their study. They will also join a cohort of PhD students affiliated with the BHF Centres at Imperial, with particular interests in regenerative medicine and novel technologies. They will also link to the wider Imperial College through activities such as the Imperial Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Network.
Applicants must hold, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second-class honours degree or equivalent in an appropriate subject from a recognised academic institution. Candidates must fulfil College admissions criteria and meet BHF residency requirements. This is a highly interdisciplinary project and previous experience in at least one of the areas of study (immunology, cardiovascular biology, electrophysiology) is essential. Experience of ex vivo Langendorff heart perfusion and surgical techniques are desirable.
How to Apply
To apply, please email Jinata Subba (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the following documents.
- Your CV
- The names and addresses of at least two academic referees
- A personal statement of no more than 1,000 words explaining your interest in the project
Please assume that your application has not been successful if you have not heard from us within a month of the closing date.
Closing date for all applications: Sunday 28 January 2018
Interviews will be held in February 2018