researchers at lab bench pipette

Key information

Dr James Harker

Deadline: now closed.

Three year PhD funded through the National Heart and Lung Institute, starting October 2019.

Applications are invited from candidates with a Master’s degree (Merit and above) in Biomedical Sciences, Immunology or a related discipline, for a three year PhD.

The studentship will be funded for three years with a tax free bursary of £18,000 p.a.. Tuition fees at the Home/EU rate will also be paid.

Summary of Research

Antibody mediated immunity is critical in providing long term protective immunity, and is the primary mechanism behind vaccination. Antibody responses can however become dysregulated, leading to production of pathogenic antibodies such as auto-antibodies or allergen specific IgE. This is especially the case in early life, and infancy is frequently the period when allergen-sensitisation occurs and where vaccines are least effective.

High quality antibody production by B cells is dependent on the level of help they receive from T cells. Our group has shown that signals by cytokines, the small soluble signalling molecules of the immune system, can positively and negatively both the generation of B-helper T cells and the type of help they provide. We have also shown that these processes become dysregulated in early life in mouse models of disease. Using mouse models of infection and allergic disease alongside in vitro and clinical human samples, this project will determine the molecular and cellular mechanisms of this dysfunction in early life, subsequently applying this knowledge to enhance antibody mediated immunity.

Imperial College London provides excellent opportunities for research students' 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 student will be based in the section of inflammation, repair and development within the National Heart and Lung Institute, which provides an exciting environment, with state of the art facilities and excellent opportunities for PhD student training including research seminars and journal clubs. This project will be carried out in close collaboration with clinical teams embedded in the section, and the institute provides extensive collaborative opportunities with other research groups.

How to Apply

Applicants must hold, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second-class undergraduate degree or UK equivalent, along with a Master's, both in an appropriate subject from a recognised academic institution.

To apply please email the following information to Dr James Harker by email on

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • One page personal statement
  • Name, address, telephone number or email of at least two academic referees. 

Application deadline: now closed.

Please note that candidates must fulfil College admissions criteria.

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