The Bloomsbury Colleges | PhD Studentships | Studentships 2013 | Immunogenicity, Variability and Function of Novel Chlamydia Trachomatis Antigens
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Immunogenicity, Variability and Function of Novel Chlamydia Trachomatis Antigens

Principal Supervisor: Dr Martin Holland (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

Co-Supervisor: Dr Richard Hayward (Birkbeck; Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology)

We are seeking a motivated graduate student to join our research programmes on the leading infectious cause of blindness (trachoma) and sexually transmitted infections. The programme includes studies on immune responses to antigens of Chlamydia trachomatis and their relationship to the clinical signs and outcome of ocula C. trachomatis infection, on virulance determinants of C. trachomatis, on the genetic determinants of susceptibility to blinding disease and on the epidemiology and control of trachoma. Specifically the student will investigate the biology of antigenic proteins identified from screening the proteome of Chlamydia trachomatis. The aim is to understand their significance in protective immunity and their role in disease pathology. We also expect to develop and evaluate serological tests for C. trachomatis that will be of value to trachoma elimination programmes. We will produce high quality recombinant proteins of both the antigens we have identified and a limited number of the recognized immunodominant antigens. These will be used to quantify the magnitude and quality of immune responses. By examining sequence variation in newly collected clinical isolates of C. trachomatis, the significance of antigen polymorphism within the pathogen population will be assessed. The intracellular localisation and trafficking of the novel antigens will be investigated using cell biology and imaging approaches using both laboratory adapted and isolated chlamydial strains.

Candidate Requirements

Applicants must have a first or good upper second class honours degree in immunology, biochemistry or microbiology. Additional laboratory experience or an MSc/MRes in a relevant area is also desirable. Applicants must be willing to work overseas when required.

Opportunities for Training

The Research Degree Student (RDS) would be a member of the Department of Clinical Research in the Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases. RDS training is similar across departments, with regular seminars, research-in-progress meetings, journal clubs and technical equipment demonstrations. All RDS are expected to give at least two Departmental/Faculty seminars, participate at least once in the annual School poster day and present their work at a UK and international meeting. RDS are encouraged to take advantage of a wide range of opportunities for skills development and may attend up to four teaching units/modules per year, appropriate to research needs, from over 50 courses in the School's Masters programme. The School also runs a Transferable Skills programme. Students also benefit from the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network, which allows students to register for training sessions offered by seven other Colleges of the University of London. All RDS have access to a wide range of Computing skills courses and final year students are encouraged to take advantage of the School's Staff Development Programme, which offers a range of in-house training sessions, workshops and seminars on teaching, management, research skills, specialist skills and general working and interpersonal skills. The Schools' careers service provides access to the extensive library and seminar series run by Specialist Institution's Careers Service, University of London. All students undergo a formal assessment process at the end of 12 months, in order to upgrade from MPhil to PhD status. The feasibility of the research project is reassessed and any training needs identified, by a panel comprising internal and external assessors.

Key References

Solomon AW, Engels D, Bailey RL, et al. A diagnostics platform for the integrated mapping, monitoring and surveillance of neglected tropical diseases: rationale and target product profiles. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2012;6:e1746

Cruz-Fisher MI, Cheng C, Sun G, et al. Identification of immunodominant antigens by probing a whole Chlamydia trachomatis open reading frame proteome microarray using sera from immunized mice. Infect Immun 2011;79:246-257

Lu C, Holland MJ, Gong S, et al. Genome-wide identification of Chlamydia trachomatis antigens associated with trachomatous trichiasis. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2012; 53: 2551-2559.

Dumoux M, Clare DK, Saibil HR, Hayward RD. Chlamydiae assemble a pathogen synapse to hijack the host endoplasmic reticulum. Traffic 2012; in press (December Issue)

Fan H. Blindness-causing trachomatous trichiasis biomarkers sighted. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012 May 14;53(6):2560

Further details about the project may be obtained from:

Principal supervisor: Dr Martin Holland,,

Co-supervisor: Dr Richard Hayward,,

Further information about PhDs at LSHTM is available from:

Application forms and details about how to apply are available from:

or via The Registry, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, United Kingdom, Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7299 4646, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7299 4656, Email:

Research Degrees Administrator: Suzanne Strong,, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7927 2479

Those interested in being considered for this studentship should:

1. Indicate on page 10 of the LSHTM application form that they wish to be considered for this award

2. Submit all of the following documents by the application deadline:

  • Completed application for LSHTM Research degree study
  • The supporting documents listed under the checklist on page 10 of the LSHTM application form, including CV and two references

If you are not entitled to the lower Home/EU fees, please state how you plan to fund the balance of the fees.

Closing date for applications is the 15th March 2013