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Decoding the mechanisms from oral dysbiosis to autoimmunity in rheumatoid arthritis


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Wednesday 19 June 2024
Project start date
Tuesday 1 October 2024
Country eligibility
UK only
Source of funding
External organisation
Dr Josie Meade
Additional supervisors
Dr Xia Yu, Dr Thuy Do, Dr Kulveer Mankia
School of Dentistry
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

One fully funded Frederick E Hopper full-time PhD scholarship is available in the School of Dentistry for a start in October 2024. The scholarship will cover UK tuition fees and attract a stipend of &pound;19,237, subject to satisfactory progress.<br /> The award is open to full-time or part-time candidates (UK only) who meet the eligibility for a place on a PhD degree at the School of Dentistry. This project would suit a student with a microbiology or molecular biology background.<br /> Candidates whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study.<br />

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>Infectious inflammation at mucosal sites such as the oral cavity is suspected as a triggering event in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pathogenesis and periodontitis is known to be associated with RA (1,2). Our multidisciplinary research team is exploring this association, bringing together basic scientists and clinicians from the School of Dentistry and LBRC; both will contribute to the PhD supervision team. The project will expand upon the findings of our collaboration to date (3-5) but will open new opportunities by focusing on host defenses. We demonstrated that the periodontitis-RA disease association is present prior to the onset of RA in those serologically deemed at-risk and that there are perturbations (dysbiosis) of the oral microbiome at both periodontally healthy and diseased sites in this group (3,4). We are continuing with a pilot periodontal intervention study throughout 2021, generating further data and samples to the benefit of this studentship.<br /> We aim to uncover the mechanisms underpinning the contribution of oral disease to the development of autoimmunity in RA, focusing on the misguided and destructive host immune responses to periodontal pathogens. Our goal, to understand the association between oral periodontal disease and systemic RA, is aligned to the SoD Research strategy theme Oral/Systemic Health &ldquo;Putting the mouth back in the body&rdquo;, and to the development and renewal of the NIHR LBRC. Discoveries from this studentship will feed into funding applications, leading to the development of interventions to improve dental health, reduce/promote resolution of inflammation and reduce/delay the onset of RA symptoms within this group.</p> <h5>Aims &amp; objectives:</h5> <ul> <li>Identification of robust transcriptomic and proteomic signatures using established clinical dataset and oral clinical cohort sample bank. Feasibility for identification of autoimmunity-linked post-translational modifications has been demonstrated within such samples (6 and RAP unpublished data).</li> <li>Functional assessment of salivary and peripheral blood neutrophils and comparison within the different cohort groups.</li> </ul> <p>Analyses will inform in vitro experiments examining the impact of key bacteria on host inflammatory (epithelial) and innate (neutrophil) responses.</p> <h5>References:</h5> <ol> <li>Kaur S, White S, Bartold PM. (2013) Journal of Dental Research, 92(5):399-408.</li> <li>Cheng Z, Meade J, Mankia K, Emery P, Devine DA. (2017) Best Practice &amp; Research Clinical Rheumatology, 31(1):19-30.&nbsp;</li> <li>Mankia K et al (2019) JAMA Network Open. 2(6): e195394.&nbsp;</li> <li>Cheng Z et al (2020) Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.&nbsp;</li> <li>Cheng Z, Do T, Meade J, Potempa, J, Emery P, Marsh PD, Devine DA. #2554 IADR/PER General Session 2018.&nbsp;</li> <li>Schwenzer A et al. (2017) Arthritis and Rheumatology, 69(12):2303-2313.</li> </ol> <h5>Other Conditions</h5> <ul> <li>Applicants must not have already been awarded or be currently studying for a doctoral degree.</li> <li>Awards must be taken up by 1st October 2024.</li> <li>Applicants must live within a reasonable distance of the University of Leeds whilst in receipt of this scholarship.</li> </ul>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>To apply for this scholarship opportunity applicants should complete an <a href="">online application form</a> and attach the following documentation to support their application.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>A full academic CV</li> <li>Degree certificate and transcripts of marks</li> <li>Evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (if applicable)</li> </ul> <p>To help us identify that you are applying for this scholarship project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;</p> <ul> <li>Select PhD in Dentistry as your programme of study</li> <li>Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert</li> <li>For source of funding please state you are applying for a&nbsp;Frederick E Hopper Scholarship</li> </ul> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to this scholarship in the School of Dentistry should normally have an Undergraduate degree of 2:1 or above (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject area. A Master&rsquo;s degree is desirable, but not essential. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Admissions Team prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for postgraduate research study in the School of Dentistry is an IELTS of 6.5 overall with at least 6.0 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>We are offering 1 full-time PhD scholarship in the School of Dentistry for one UK candidate, covering a maintenance grant of &pound;19,237 per year and UK tuition fees for three years, subject to satisfactory progress. The award will be made for one year in the first instance and renewable for a further period of up to two years, subject to satisfactory academic progress.&nbsp;This is one of four available projects being advertised for the one successful candidate for this scholarship.&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information please contact the Faculty PGR Admissions Team</p> <p>e: <a href=""></a></p>