Our Division uses a range of techniques from molecular genetics and biochemistry to clinical trial design to better understand the dynamic interplay between host defence mechanisms and viral and microbial determinants. These studies have exposed novel determinants of host protection against HIV-AIDS virus, and revealed how the virus depends upon key components of cell biology such as those that direct cell division. We examine what fails when host defence mechanisms mistakenly target uninfected tissues, causing autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Type I diabetes, and ask how such mechanisms respond to tumours.
One major focus is on a refined understanding of the function and turnover of monocytes; another on the characterization of a novel lymphoid stress-surveillance response; and a third on the nature of T cell dysregulation that underpins MHC-restricted autoimmune diseases. We actively consider practical approaches to enhancing host responses to pathogens and to limiting autoimmunity, and we contribute to clinical trials novel approaches to measuring disease course and treatment outcome.
Major research programmes include:
- The study of lymphoid stress-surveillance in tumour rejection and in graft rejection;
- The mechanisms of action of human regulatory T cells;
- T cell development in the thymus;
- Factors that regulate the threshold for lymphocyte responses;
- Monocyte and dendritic cell function and development;
- The maturation of B cell responses in tissues;
- Approaches to immunotherapy;
- RNA trafficking and metabolism and its roles as in host defense and HIV pathogenesis;
- Viral budding mechanisms;
- Innate, cell-autonomous anti-viral responses;
- Antigen non-specific activation of innate immunity;
- Leukocyte trafficking;
- B cell and T cell responses that operate at the body's surfaces
- Vaccine and adjuvant design for both immunoprotection (infection / tumours);
- Immunosuppression (autoimmune disease).
We actively contribute to the Biomedical Research Centre of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trusts, in which regard research into practical cell therapy programmes have just commenced.
We also have links with large and small pharmaceutical and biotech activities, via sponsored research agreements with Genentech, NovoNordisk, GSK, ImmuoQure
The Division currently has 75 PhD students each working on individual projects, within established teams of researchers, supervised by the principal investigator of the group and commonly interacting with fellow laboratory researchers on a day-today basis. Students are expected to submit their thesis within four years of the start of their studies - to achieve this will need to work and think carefully and intensively on a daily basis. Departments run laboratory meetings, which students will be required to attend and there is a strong ethos of continued education, so students are encouraged to broaden their scientific knowledge by attending seminars in other departments within the division. Students are supported throughout their three-year (FT) or six-year (PT) studies by a personal committee composed of the student's two supervisors, two independent experts and a chairperson, who is part of the Postgraduate Teaching Committee. The student has regular six-monthly reports/meetings to monitor progress. In addition, they present their work at laboratory and departmental meetings and at the annual divisional Graduate Students' Research Day.
Excellent training courses (scientific, IT and others) are available for all PhD students through King's Graduate School. Additionally, training for most laboratory techniques is available within the Division. It is expected that graduate students will attend many of these courses to help them rapidly attain the high level of technical and IT expertise required to produce top quality work.
Head of group/division
Professor Adrian Hayday
King's College London
Expected to be three years FT or up to six years PT. Registration normally October, although students may commence at any time.
Mainly Guy's Campus and sometimes St Thomas' and Denmark Hill campuses.
Contact Division for details.
Year of entry 2013