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Kennedy Trust Prize Studentships

Project overview

Obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes (T2D), and associated cardiovascular disease (CVD) often coexist clinically and constitute an epidemic global health problem. Metabolic diseases are associated with inflammation of metabolic and endocrine tissues. The molecular underpinnings of metabolic inflammation are ill defined but myeloid cells are believed to be central to the development of metabolic diseases (1). We have recently demonstrated that myeloid deficiency in Interferon Regulatory Factor (IRF)-5 protects from the pre-diabetic state of insulin resistance in diet-induced obesity (2). We have also observed that IRF5 deficiency reduces size of atherosclerotic lesions and selectively ablates a CD11c+macrophage subset in the aorta (3), suggesting that IRF5 supports the maintenance of pro-inflammatory CD11c+macrophages in metabolic disease. This project aims to investigate the biology and molecular regulation of CD11c+ macrophages and how they function in atherosclerosis.The results will contribute to our understanding of the increased risk of atherosclerosis in patients with metabolic diseases and it will explore the fundamental molecular mechanisms regulating macrophage programming in metabolic inflammation.


  • Chawla A, Nguyen KD, Goh YP. Macrophage-mediated inflammation in metabolic disease. Nat Rev Immunol (2011) 11:738–49. 
  • Irf5 deficiency in macrophages promotes beneficial adipose tissue expansion and insulin sensitivity during obesity. Dalmas E, Toubal A, Alzaid F, Blazek K, Eames HL, Lebozec K, Pini M, Hainault I, Montastier E, Denis RG, Ancel P, Lacombe A, Ling Y, Allatif O, Cruciani-Guglielmacci C, André S, Viguerie N, Poitou C, Stich V, Torcivia A, Foufelle F, Luquet S, Aron-Wisnewsky J, Langin D, Clément K, Udalova IA, Venteclef N. Nat Med. 2015 Jun;21(6):610-8. 
  • Seneviratne AN, Edsfeldt AO, Cole JE, Kassiteridi C, Swart M, Park I, Green P, Khoyratty TE, Saliba DG, Goddard ME, Sansom SN, Goncalves I, Krams R, Udalova IA, Monaco C. Interferon Regulatory Factor 5 Controls Necrotic Core Formation in Atherosclerotic Lesions by Impairing Efferocytosis. Circulation. 2017 Jul 11. pii: CIRCULATIONAHA.117.027844. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.027844. [Epub ahead of print]


  • Immunology
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology


The Kennedy Institute is a world-renowned research centre, housed in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility at the University of Oxford. The Kennedy Institute provides access to outstanding core facilitates including advanced imaging equipment, multiparameter cell sorting and analysis, mass cytometry, deep sequencing, a full histology core and bioinformatics infrastructure.

Training will be provided in techniques including models of atherosclerosis and state-of-the-art single cell platforms (e.g. mass cytometry (CyTOF)), as well asa range of immunology, cellular and molecular biology techniques, and genomics. 

A core curriculum of lectures will be taken in the first term to provide a solid foundation in a broad range of subjects including musculoskeletal biology, inflammation, epigenetics, translational immunology and data analysis. 

Students will attend weekly seminars within the department and those relevant in the wider University. 

Students will be expected to present data regularly to the department, the Cardiovascular Inflammation Group and to attend external conferences to present their research globally. 

Students will also have the opportunity to work closely with the Genomics of Inflammation Group led by Professor Irina Udalova. Students will also have the opportunity to present their research and interact with researchers within the British Heart Foundation Centre of Excellence in Oxford.

How to Apply

The department accepts applications throughout the year but it is recommended that, in the first instance, you contact the relevant supervisor(s) or the Directors of Graduate Studies who will be able to advise you of the essential requirements. 

Interested applicants should have or expect to obtain a first or upper second class BSc degree or equivalent, and will also need to provide evidence of English language competence. The University requires candidates to formally apply online and for their referees to submit online references via the online application system. 

The application guide and form is found online and the DPhil or MSc by research will commence in October 2019.. 

When completing the online application, please read the University Guide:

Further information 

Claudia Monaco, kennedy institute of rheumatology

External Supervisor

Professor Ashok HandaNuffield Department of Surgical Sciences

Project reference number #201909