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PhD studentship: Fully funded PhD studentship - Misprogramming of mesenchymal progenitor cells in human lung fibrosis

Clinical and Experimental Sciences

Location:  Southampton General Hospital
Closing Date:  Friday 05 July 2019
Reference:  1133419FC

Lead Institute / Faculty: Faculty of Medicine

Main Supervisor: Dr Mark Jones

Other members of the supervisory team: Prof Donna Davies, Dr Yihua Wang, Dr Rob Ewing

Duration of the award: 4 years, full time

Project description: 

With an ageing population, fibrotic diseases are a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and treatment options are limited. In the Lung Fibrosis Group at the University of Southampton we aim to develop new ways to treat patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a devastating disease with a prognosis as worse than many cancers (Jones, Lancet, 2017;389:1941-52). Healthy tissue is replaced by scar tissue, and lung architecture destroyed, preventing gas-exchange, and ultimately leading to respiratory failure and death.

We have recently shown that lung tissue in IPF is stiffer as a result of changes to individual collagen fibril architecture, identifying that increased ‘bone’ type collagen cross-links are a key determinant of progressive lung fibrosis (Jones, eLife 2018;7:e36354). This studentship will investigate the hypothesis that misprogramming of mesenchymal progenitor cells plays a key role in this fibrotic process.

The studentship will provide excellent wide-ranging training in state-of-the-art methodologies including advanced 3D cell culture, molecular biology, proteomics, and computational analysis of large datasets. You will perform mechanistic studies using gene editing and small molecule inhibitor approaches, investigating functional consequences on tissue stiffness within a tissue-engineered model of fibrosis. Additionally, with our collaborator Prof. Philipp Thurner there is the opportunity for a 1 month placement at Vienna University of Technology, Austria to gain understanding of biomechanical testing techniques at the nano- and micro-scale, so providing valuable international and inter-disciplinary experience.

The student will follow the 4 year integrated PhD programme (Immunity and infection pathway).

Doctoral Person Specification can be found at

Please contact:  Informal enquiries may be addressed to Dr Mark Jones (

Person Specification: See below

The successful candidate is likely to have the following qualifications:

  • A 1stor 2:1 degree in a relevant discipline and/or second degree with a related Masters

Funding information:
This prestigious Holgate Studentship is fully funded by the AAIR Charity, including fees (UK/EU), stipend and project costs.Eligible students will be paid at the standard UK Research Council recommended rate; for 2019/20 this is £15,009 pa.

Administrative contact and how to apply:

Please complete the University's online application form, which you can find at

Closing date: 5th July. 

Interview date:  Week commencing 22nd July. 

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