Functional Mechanisms of Genetic Risk Factors for Immune-Related Disease

Deadline: Open all year round
Self Funded

Project Description

Who are we?

We are a vibrant, outward-looking, multi-disciplinary research group interested in understanding how genetic risk factors can impact on both susceptibility to infection and to autoimmune disease. We have a strong interest in comparing how genetic risk factors from different ancestries impact on risk of infection and in developing autoimmune disease.

The ImmunoGenetics group is headed by Prof Timothy Vyse, a clinical academic with world-leading expertise in the genetics of the autoimmune disease Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Each supervisor in the ImmunoGenetics group has an excellent track record in research and PhD supervision. They each have a breadth of understanding and experience in helping international PhD students through their projects, including Chinese PhD students.

What projects are available?

  • How does the profile of genetic risk alleles from different ancestries affect gene expression profiles and epigenetic landscapes in immune cell subsets?
  • Can ancestral differences in Polygenic risk scores for autoimmune disease predict differences in severity and prognosis?
  • Correlation of genetic risk alleles for autoimmune disease with those for viral infection, including COVID-19.

Funding Information

The projects listed above are offered on the basis of self-funding. They are all open to applicants who already have funding or those who need to apply for funding sources. We are very happy to support applicants in writing funding applications. Candidates must be able to meet admission criteria and tuition fee requirements of our department.

For Chinese nationals, there is also a potential for applying to the China Scholarship Council fellowship scheme.

Eligibility Requirements

Dedicated students with a first or 2.1 undergraduate degree or equivalent in statistics, computational biology, bioinformatics or biological science/medicine.

Evidence of strong English Language Skills eg) IELTs overall score 6.5 with no less than 6 on individual elements.

Application Process

If you meet the criteria listed above and are curious about the type of science we are doing, then please email Prof Vyse outlining the project you are interested in, your current English Language scores, and why you may be interested in joining our group.


  1. Morris DL, …. Cunninghame Graham DS, Bentham J, Chen R, …. Zhang XJ, Yang W, Cui Y, Vyse TJ. Meta-analysis of Chinese and European GWAS identifies 10 novel SLE associated loci and provides evidence for increased genetic risk of disease in non-Europeans. Nat Genet (2016) 48(8): 940-946.
  2. Bentham J, Morris DL, Cunninghame Graham DS ….. Vyse TJ. Genetic association analyses implicate aberrant regulation of innate and adaptive immunity genes in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus. Nat Genet. (2015) 47(12): 1457-64.
  3. Kamitaki N, …. Morris DL, ….. Vyse TJ and McCarroll SA. Complement genes contribute sex-biased vulnerability in diverse disorders. Nature. (2020) 582(7813): 577-581.
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