The most important indicators of a successful PhD programme are what the students achieved, their thoughts of the course and their onward destinations. Follow the links to get an idea of why we feel this course really does deliver first class training in infection biology and prepares students for careers beoth inside and outside scientific research.

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Past and present students

Bevin McGeever

Currenty a PhD student with Prof Gadi Frankel

Doing a variety of projects during the MRes year not only taught me a lot of new skills but was also fantastic help when it came to deciding on my PhD project. London is a stimulating city to live in no matter what you enjoy doing and through the societies at Imperial you can often get discounts to things like West End shows, etc.

Tom Bell

PhD student with Robert Snelgrove and Clare LLoyd

Being able to 'try before you buy' during the MRes year was an invaluable opportunity to work with several excellent potential supervisors prior to starting my PhD

Luke Roberts

Currently a PhD student with Prof Murray Selkirk

Luke Roberts This course has really been a turning point in my life and career. I needed training in molecular and cellular biology and so chose my three short research MRes projects to help me get experience: genetics of dendritic immune cells, molecular signalling during parasitic helminth infection, and the nature of adaptive mutations of avian influenza viruses.

Living in London has also been a great experience -  there is a lot to do and see. Based near South Kensington and the Natural History Museum are definitely plus points for me! The generous stipend provided by the Wellcome Trust also ensures that when not studying, you should have the funds to enjoy what the city has to offer.

Imperial is home to a myriad of incredible researchers; many of the supervisors are world leaders in their fields, giving students an incredible opportunity to carry out work at the forefront of science. Other benefits can arise unexpectedly. After chosing my PhD project in the summer, I joined my supervisor and his lab group for a week long conference on a Greek island where I met brilliant researchers working in the field of my PhD!  It was a fantastic way to end the year and begin my PhD, and highlights the diverse opportunities that being a member of this course can bring.

Clare Harding

Recently finished a PhD with Prof Gadi Frankel - now a post-doc at Univ of Glasgow

I have really enjoyed the 4 year program. The rotations in the first year give you the chance to try some areas of science you may not previously have considered and are an effective education in how to choose a project and a lab. This meant I found it much easier to pick a project and a lab for my PhD. The weekly seminars can be annoying at the time, but are a good way of broadening your knowledge and meeting more people. 

The Masters year gave me a some good lab skills which meant I could hit the ground running for my PhD. For me it has been great - the Wellcome funding meant I could go to a big conference in San Francisco and do a research placement in Singapore which were amazing experiences.  All of the students of the course meet up every year to present our research, this gave me good experience in presentation and communication skills which made presenting at the conference less intimidating. 

I would highly recommend this programme to anyone interested in infection and immunity; the first year gives you a broad base and the range of projects available at Imperial means that there will be a project in whatever you are interested in. Imperial is a good university, in one of the prettiest parts of London and there are loads of societies and sports teams available which can make the four years pass very quickly. 

Marcin Dembek

Recently finished a PhD student with Prof Neil Fairweather - now a post-doc at Univ of Newcastle.

It's difficult to overestimate the experience gained from the Wellcome Trust 4-year PhD programme. During my first year I've had the chance to work on a wide range of projects across different campuses and learn new techniques working alongside some of the best researchers in their respective fields. While the workload was challenging at times, with weekly seminars on top of the labwork, I found it extremely satisfying and a great way to try out new things and 'get a feel' for what I wanted to do during the three years that would follow.

I decided to do my PhD in Prof. Neil Fairweather's group, working on the molecular basis of germination in Clostridium difficile. Apart from my main project I've had the chance to collaborate on a number of side-projects, publish papers in high impact journals and even dip my toes in undergraduate teaching.Throughout my PhD I've had great support from both the Wellcome Trust and Imperial College, which offers an excellent research environment with access to state-of-the-art facilities as well as ample transferable skills training and career development opportunities. I've also had the chance to brush up on my science communication skills, presenting my work at conferences and meetings both in the UK and abroad. The limited intake every year, makes the Wellcome students a 'tight knit' group which helps to generate a network of contacts that might come in handy in the later stages of your career. I am confident that I couldn't have found a better programme for doing a PhD in infectious disease. All and all, possibly the best start in science you could wish for.

Lucy Thorne

Currently a Post-Doc at the Department of Pathology, Cambridge University

Lucy Thorne This has been a fantastic PhD programme. I came from a biochemistry background and, although I liked many aspects of infectious disease, I was unsure as to which area I wanted to do a PhD in. For this reason the first year provided a perfect opportunity to find out what I most like d before starting my PhD. I did three very different rotation projects ranging from antibody therapies against bacterial toxins, in vivo immunology, to a virology project focused on novel ways to generate an attenuated vaccine. This also allowed me to meet different supervisors, their groups and working environments, which all helped me to decide on a lab and PhD topic that I have since really enjoyed. Through the rotations I also learnt a wide range of techniques so that by the time of starting my PhD I was more competent in the lab, so was able to get going quickly.

The first year weekly seminars are also a great feature of the programme. Although at the time it can feel difficult to fit them around the lab work, they give a chance to meet people from all over Imperial and be taught by specialists in their area. They also teach you to be able to quickly pick up a subject area enough to be able to present on it, which helped throughout the short 3 month rotations and ultimately for getting to grips with my PhD.  Having a small student group made it easy to get to know everyone and we had many chances to meet students from the other years on the programme for socials, which was great for getting advice on the course, lab work and just meeting new people.

I’ve been lucky to have had great supervision and a good lab, and have really enjoyed my PhD. The projects have gone well (some parts better than others!) but I have been able to publish, have learnt a whole range of different techniques and have had the chance to work with collaborators in Imperial, other institutions in the UK, America and Australia. Imperial College and the Wellcome Trust have provided many opportunities to present my research at seminar and poster days, which have all helped to improve my presentation skills. I have also presented at international conferences in America and Chile, both of which were fantastic experiences and opportunities to travel! The Programme travel allowance supported both of these trips, alongside other travel grants. I’ve had good support through my PhD, from not only my supervisor and the lab, but also from the organisers of the Programme if I’ve ever needed and the friends that I’ve met through it.

There are also opportunities to do other things such as outreach work and science communication. Last year I took part in Famelab,  a competition for science communication where you have 3 minutes to explain your work or a science concept in an engaging and hopefully entertaining way to the general public (see my video below). Despite having a slightly awful name (!), Famelab was a great experience, I managed to get to the National final where I came runner up and got to present to the Head of BBC science and a science presenter, at the Royal Institution. Through it I’ve had some exciting opportunities, like science podcasts, shows and travelling to the Hong Kong Science Festival and the people at Imperial have supported it all. Overall I’d strongly recommend this programme to anyone interested in doing a PhD in infectious disease, and I feel grateful for the excellent training, opportunities and experiences it has given me.

Dr Nathan Scott

Currently Principal Scientist - Biotherapeutic Discovery & Engineering, Pfizer Inc, Cambridge Massachusetts

If you are interested in infectious disease, have a passion for scientific research and have the drive to succeed, achieve and make a difference then this is the PhD programme for you. It is well organised and structured and Imperial College London offers a brilliant research environment in terms of equipment provision, training, resources, support and it all comes with a transferable skills scheme that is second to none in my opinion. You will also generate a network of really useful contacts and make some great friends in the process. For me the 1+3 Wellcome programme was a fantastic experience.

Publications from PhD projects

Here are a selction of recent papers published by students on this programme. The PhD students names are highlighted.

Cassidy, S., S. Mukherjee, T.M. Myint, B. Mbiribindi, H. North, J. Traherne, A. Mulder, F.H. Claas, M.A. Purbhoo, J. Das & S.I. Khakoo, (2015) Peptide selectivity discriminates NK cells from KIR2DL2- and KIR2DL3-positive individuals. European Journal of Immunology 45: 492-500.

Dembek, M., L. Barquist, C.J. Boinett, A.K. Cain, M. Mayho, T.D. Lawley, N.F. Fairweather & R.P. Fagan, (2015) High-Throughput Analysis of Gene Essentiality and Sporulation in Clostridium difficile. MBio 6: e02383.

Chung, L., D. Bailey, E.N. Leen, E.P. Emmott, Y. Chaudhry, L.O. Roberts, S. Curry, N. Locker & I.G. Goodfellow, (2014) Norovirus translation requires an interaction between the C Terminus of the genome-linked viral protein VPg and eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4G. J Biol Chem 289: 21738-21750.

Arias, A., L. Thorne & I. Goodfellow, (2014) Favipiravir elicits antiviral mutagenesis during virus replication in vivo. eLife 3: e03679.

Cassidy, S.A., K.S. Cheent & S.I. Khakoo, (2014) Effects of Peptide on NK cell-mediated MHC I recognition. Frontiers in immunology 5: 133.

Gibbs, J., L. Ince, L. Matthews, J. Mei, T. Bell, N. Yang, B. Saer, N. Begley, T. Poolman, M. Pariollaud, S. Farrow, F. DeMayo, T. Hussell, G.S. Worthen, et al., (2014) An epithelial circadian clock controls pulmonary inflammation and glucocorticoid action. Nat Med 20: 919-926.

Hennig, T., F. Abaitua & P. O'Hare, (2014) Functional analysis of nuclear localization signals in VP1-2 homologues from all herpesvirus subfamilies. Journal of virology 88: 5391-5405.

Hussell, T. & T.J. Bell, (2014) Alveolar macrophages: plasticity in a tissue-specific context. Nat Rev Immunol 14: 81-93.

Muhl, D. & A. Filloux, (2014) Site-directed mutagenesis and gene deletion using reverse genetics. Methods Mol Biol 1149: 521-539.

Phetcharaburanin, J., H.A. Hong, C. Colenutt, I. Bianconi, L. Sempere, P. Permpoonpattana, K. Smith, M. Dembek, S. Tan, M.C. Brisson, A.R. Brisson, N.F. Fairweather & S.M. Cutting, (2014) The spore-associated protein BclA1 affects the susceptibility of animals to colonization and infection by Clostridium difficile. Mol Microbiol 92: 1025-1038

Stathopoulos, S., D.E. Neafsey, M.K. Lawniczak, M.A. Muskavitch & G.K. Christophides, (2014) Genetic dissection of Anopheles gambiae gut epithelial responses to Serratia marcescens. PLoS Pathog 10: e1003897.

Hwang, S., B. Alhatlani, A. Arias, S.L. Caddy, C. Christodoulou, J.B. Cunha, E. Emmott, M. Gonzalez-Hernandez, A. Kolawole, J. Lu, C. Rippinger, F. Sorgeloos, L. Thorne, S. Vashist, et al., (2014) Murine norovirus: propagation, quantification, and genetic manipulation. Current Protocols in Microbiology 33: 15K 12 11-15K 12 61.

Rashidi, N.M., M.K. Scott, N. Scherf, A. Krinner, J.S. Kalchschmidt, K. Gounaris, M.E. Selkirk, I. Roeder & C. Lo Celso, (2014) In vivo time-lapse imaging shows diverse niche engagement by quiescent and naturally activated hematopoietic stem cells. Blood 124: 79-83.

Johns, H.L., C. Gonzalez-Lopez, C.L. Sayers, M. Hollinshead & G. Elliott, (2014) Rab6 dependent post-Golgi trafficking of HSV1 envelope proteins to sites of virus envelopment. Traffic 15: 157-178.

Progatzky, F., N.J. Sangha, N. Yoshida, M. McBrien, J. Cheung, A. Shia, J. Scott, J.R. Marchesi, J.R. Lamb, L. Bugeon & M.J. Dallman, (2014) Dietary cholesterol directly induces acute inflammasome-dependent intestinal inflammation. Nature Communications 5: 5864

Cheent, K.S., K.M. Jamil, S. Cassidy, M. Liu, B. Mbiribindi, A. Mulder, F.H. Claas, M.A. Purbhoo & S.I. Khakoo, (2013) Synergistic inhibition of natural killer cells by the nonsignaling molecule CD94. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110: 16981-16986.

Fu, G., J. Casas, S. Rigaud, V. Rybakin, F. Lambolez, J. Brzostek, J.A. Hoerter, W. Paster, O. Acuto, H. Cheroutre, K. Sauer & N.R. Gascoigne, (2013) Themis sets the signal threshold for positive and negative selection in T-cell development. Nature 504: 441-445.

Hoerter, J.A., J. Brzostek, M.N. Artyomov, S.M. Abel, J. Casas, V. Rybakin, J. Ampudia, C. Lotz, J.M. Connolly, A.K. Chakraborty, K.G. Gould & N.R. Gascoigne, (2013) Coreceptor affinity for MHC defines peptide specificity requirements for TCR interaction with coagonist peptide-MHC. J Exp Med 210: 1807-1821.

Holland, S.J., I. Bartok, M. Attaf, R. Genolet, I.F. Luescher, E. Kotsiou, A. Richard, E. Wang, M. White, D.J. Coe, J.G. Chai, C. Ferreira & J. Dyson, (2012) The T-cell receptor is not hardwired to engage MHC ligands. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109: E3111-3118.

Hollinshead, M., H.L. Johns, C.L. Sayers, C. Gonzalez-Lopez, G.L. Smith & G. Elliott, (2012) Endocytic tubules regulated by Rab GTPases 5 and 11 are used for envelopment of herpes simplex virus. EMBO J 31: 4204-4220.

McGourty, K., T.L. Thurston, S.A. Matthews, L. Pinaud, L.J. Mota & D.W. Holden, (2012) Salmonella inhibits retrograde trafficking of mannose-6-phosphate receptors and lysosome function. Science 338: 963-967.

Povelones, M.L., E. Gluenz, M. Dembek, K. Gull & G. Rudenko, (2012) Histone H1 plays a role in heterochromatin formation and VSG expression site silencing in Trypanosoma brucei. PLoS Pathog 8: e1003010.

Tattermusch, S., J.A. Skinner, D. Chaussabel, J. Banchereau, M.P. Berry, F.W. McNab, A. O'Garra, G.P. Taylor & C.R. Bangham, (2012) Systems biology approaches reveal a specific interferon-inducible signature in HTLV-1 associated myelopathy. PLoS Pathog 8: e1002480.

Trauner, A., K.E. Lougheed, M.H. Bennett, S.M. Hingley-Wilson & H.D. Williams, (2012) The dormancy regulator DosR controls ribosome stability in hypoxic mycobacteria. J Biol Chem 287: 24053-24063.

Onward destinations of students

Over 40 students have now completed this PhD programme and are employed in various positions including: scientific research within academic or research institutes (n=17); senior scientists within biotechnology companies (n=5); financial and/or management consultancy (n=6); science communication (n=3); scientific, academic or NHS administration (n=3). One of the initial cohort of students is now a lecturer at the University of Nottingham and 4 students have gone on to study medicine.