PhD Studentship: Inflammasome signalling in Tuberculosis: new routes to host directed therapy


A 3.5 year MRC CMBI PhD studentship is available to work in the laboratory of Dr Brian Robertson and Dr Avinash Shenoy in the MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology and Infection (CMBI) at Imperial College London. The successful applicant will be joining an internationally-renowned Research Centre, within one of the world’s top research universities.

Host directed therapy (HDT) augments the immune response to drive pathogen clearance and lessen the tissue damage associated with chronic infections such as Tuberculosis. The inflammasome is a multimeric protein complex comprised of intracellular sensor, adaptor, and pro-caspase-1; its assembly leads to processing of the pro-inflammatory cytokine, IL-1beta. Clinical isolates of M. tuberculosis show differential ability to activate the inflammasome and induce IL-1beta processing, and we have shown this can happen in the absence of inflammasome components that were previously thought of as critical sensors. Pharmacological blockade of the inflammasome elicits both anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activity and can be used in combination with rifampicin.

This project will investigate the mechanism of alternative signalling, and establish the components involved in what may constitute a novel inflammasome. Other chemical blockades will be evaluated and synergistic effects with current anti-mycobacterial drugs investigated to devise an alternate regimen to test in vitro and in vivo. The project will cover a range of aspects of molecular biology, immunology and bacteriology, as well as tissue culture and in vivo models such as the wax moth Galleria mellonella. The candidate will join the team of enthusiastic researchers within the Robertson & Shenoy groups and will have access to facilities at the CMBI and Crick.

Candidates must be expected to have a first class or upper second class Honours degree in biological sciences (or other appropriate science subject), and a Master’s degree or equivalent research experience in a relevant subject area. Only UK or EU nationals are eligible.

The 3.5 year studentship covers tuition fees and provides a tax-free stipend of £18,000 per annum.  

To apply, please send a copy of your CV, a cover letter describing why you are suitable for this PhD studentship to Nicola Tingley (n.tingley@imperial.ac.uk). Informal enquires can be sent to Dr Brian Robertson (b.robertson@imperial.ac.uk) or Dr Avinash Shenoy (a.shenoy@imperial.ac.uk)  

Application Deadline: 30th April 2020