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PhD Research Studentships: Rheumatoid Arthritis


UCD School of Medicine & UCD Conway Institute


Professor Gerry Wilson will shortly take up position of Arthritis Ireland/UCD Professor of Rheumatolog in the UCD School of Medicine & Medical Science. A number of research opportunities and research-support posts within Prof Wilson's rheumatology group which will be based at the UCD Conway Institute and across both Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and St Vincent's University Hospital. The position of PhD research studentship is now available:

Project: The role of epigenetics in the pathogenesis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the commonest chronic inflammatory joint disease and has a prevalence of 1%. It is characterised by synovial inflammation which, if uncontrolled, leads to cartilage and bone damage. Major progress in our understanding of the pathogenesis of RA has been made over the past few years with the identification of environmental risk modifying factors such as alcohol consumption and smoking whilst advances in genetics has led to the discovery of >45 susceptibility genes mostly encode immune-related proteins.

Recent evidence implicates epigenetic mechanisms in the pathogenesis of RA and there is increasing interest in therapeutically targeting the epigenome, as this is effective in animal models of RA (1, 2). This project will determine the epigenetic profiles of peripheral blood leucocytes and synovial cells in RA and determine if clinical responses to commonly used treatments, such as methotrexate and TNF inhibitors, are associated with resetting of the epigenetic signature. This information will lead to a better understanding of the role of epigenetics in the pathogenesis of RA and may result in the identification of novel therapeutic targets.

The project will involve cell culture, DNA and RNA purification, DNA sequencing, gene arrays and bioinformatics.


Applicants must have a degree in a relevant life sciences discipline (upper second class honours or higher grade). They should have excellent communication skills (oral and written) and excellent organisational skills including an ability to work to deadlines. Previous experience in research is highly desirable.


Further Details

This opportunity is a fully funded PhD position with doctoral registration fees and a student stipend funded by the School for a period of four years subject to satisfactory progression. Interested applications should apply by email to Prof Wilson.

Karouzakis, E., Gay, R.E., Michel, B.A., Gay, S., and Neidhart, M. 2009. DNA hypomethylation in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts. Arthritis Rheum 60:3613-3622.

Nile, C.J., Read, R.C., Akil, M., Duff, G.W., and Wilson, A.G. 2008. Methylation status of a single CpG site in the IL6 promoter is related to IL6 messenger RNA levels and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Rheum 58:2686-2693.

Closing Date

05 July 2013

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