University of Dundee

4 Year Wellcome Trust PhD Programme: Investigating the functions of intraepithelial lymphocytes in the gut

Intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL) are the first immune cells that pathogens encounter in the gut. These T lymphocytes lie within the epithelial layer, and are central to controlling infection, stress or transformation of the gut epithelium. Dysregulation of IEL responses can lead to inflammatory bowel diseases such as colitis and Crohn’s disease. Despite their importance, we have a poor understanding of how IEL sense and respond to stress and infection of the intestinal epithelia, and how they maintain their quiescence in the presence of the normal gut microflora. The research in my lab aims to define the nature of the signals that activate intestinal IEL, and their output that culminates in epithelial cell death and/or repair. Potential PhD projects include using novel mouse models to address the function of IEL in cancer and infection, and to dissect the molecular mechanisms that IEL use to kill infected/stressed intestinal epithelial cells. The student will address these questions using a combination of biochemistry, proteomics, new and established knockout mouse models, and in vivo infection studies.