NextImmune - Vacant PhD positions

Area A: Data generation

Project 4: Mechanisms of mast cell differentiation and function

  • SupervisorProf Jochen Schneider, 1 PhD student, LCSB, UL-SDU
  • Research keywords: mast cells, integrins, allergy
  • Collaborations: K. Weilbaecher (Washington University, St. Louis), S. Robinson (University of East Anglia, Norwich)

Allergic diseases affect over 20% of the world population. One key effector cell type of allergic reactions are the mast cells (MC). MC physiology depends largely on cell-cell and cell-matrix interaction mediated by members of the integrin family of adhesion molecules. This project aims at defining a novel player as potential target mechanism for mast cell functionality/allergy interference as well as mast cell-related diseases.


Project 5: Profiling the interaction of allergens with cells of the epithelial interface

  • SupervisorDr Christiane Hilger, 1 PhD student, LIH, SDU-UL
  • Research keywords: allergy, animal allergens
  • Collaborations: Dr. Gunnar Dittmar (LIH), Dr. Paulette Charlier (CIP, Liège), Dr. Martine Morisset (CHL, Luxembourg)

Mechanisms of cellular binding, uptake, processing and presumed allergenic immune modulation of animal allergens are not fully characterized yet. The elucidation of cellular pathways induced by animal allergens is crucial for the understanding of allergic immune responses to animals and may ultimately lead to new therapeutic approaches.

Project 7: Proinflammatory calcium signalling and cytokine secretion in neutrophils (CASIS)

  • Supervision: Prof Jean-Luc Bueb , 1 PhD student, LSRU, UL
  • Research keywords: inflammation, neutrophils, calcium signalling, cytokines, secretory granules.

According to recent advances, neutrophil-derived cytokine secretion and degranulation may play a major role in the development and resolution of inflammatory responses. 
In this project, we aim at deciphering the role of Ca2+ in cellular granule processing and cytokine secretion. Experiments will be done on human (and possibly mouse) neutrophils and cell lines, in healthy and pathological inflammatory situations, under stimulated/modulated conditions (LPS, fMLF/2-APB, BAPTA, ...), in order to identify the cellular mechanisms leading to chronic inflammatory diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, cancer-related inflammation, …).


Area B: Computational analysis

Project 13: Prediction of causal regulatory interaction networks based on large-scale time-series data

Following the dynamic measurement in different patients, JG’s group will use established computational tools adapted from the field of control engineering to identify potential regulatory causality between genes in Th2 cells. This will provide a directed network of cause-effect relationship between measurements (genes).

Strong mathematical background is a requirement! Hence, the student must hold a mathematics, engineering or physics degree.

  • The ideal candidate would hold a Master in Mathematics, Control Systems or theoretical Machine Learning.
  • If not already covered in their background, students must also learn advanced mathematic courses from the mathematics department including analysis, functional analysis and linear algebra. Biological knowledge is not essential.
  • We will only consider students that graduate in their top 20% undergraduate and Master’s class rank (equivalent to a UK first class degree).


Area C: Validation and pre-clinical target evaluation

Project 15: Integrated cellular network modeling to decipher molecular mechanisms underlying the shifted Th2 responses

  • Supervisor: Prof Antonio del Sol, 1 PhD student, LCSB, UL-SDU
  • Research keywords: allergy, Th2 responses, immunotherapy, computational networks
  • Collaborations: Sergei Nedospasov (MDC, Berlin)

Based on the allergy model described in project 13, transcriptomics and epigenomic data generated from sorted murine cells measured in different conditions will be analyzed for identifying the underlying molecular mechanisms that shift pathogenic Th2 cells in allergic disorders towards regulatory-like responses using different tools established in our group.

Project 16: A humanized mouse model of HIV latency as a preclinical tool towards functional HIV cure

  • Supervisor: Dr Carole Devaux, 1 PhD student, LIH, SDU-UL
  • Research keywords: immunology, HIV, cART
  • Collaborations: Dr Joeri Aerts (Free University of Brussels), the HIV-NANOVA project (European HIVera funding scheme)

Research on HIV pathogenesis and development of new therapeutic strategies have long been hampered by the lack of robust and reproducible preclinical models of HIV infection. In this regard, we have gained expertise in the generation and HIV infection of humanized mouse models. In this PhD project, the candidate will perform investigations that will provide important insights for the design of a therapeutic vaccine against HIV.