PhD position in Pharmacology/Immunology/Gastroenterology


Project Title: Development of endocannabinoid-based therapies for the treatment of intestinal diseases.  Ireland represents one of the fastest growing populations of pediatric inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in the world. IBD is an umbrella term covering a spectrum of disease types for which there is currently no cure. The role of the endocannabinoid pathway in intestinal disease is poorly understood and as such represents a promising research area for the development of novel therapies.  Preliminary data indicate that endocannabinoid receptor blockade can attenuate intestinal inflammation though the precise mechanism remains unclear.

In contrast, chronic exposure to exogenous stimulation of endocannabinoid receptors results in a five-fold increase in surgical risk among IBD patients, further suggesting that this understudied pathway may have an important role to play in inflammation. The two main receptors CB1 and CB2 are expressed on a range of immune cells and appear to impact their ability to reach the intestine and promote inflammation.

This PhD project will determine how endocannabinoid receptor signaling controls the homing of cells to the intestine and identify strategies to reverse this process using patient-derived intestinal leukocytes along with preclinical models of intestinal disease.


Studentship details: Stipend of €18,000/year (plus tuition fees) for 4 years

Start date: No later than January 31st 2020

Supervisor Details: Dr Colm Collins UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science, University College Dublin, Ireland.


Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Conduct self-directed and mentor guided research program to address the lack of knowledge regarding the role of the endocannabinoid system in intestinal T cell function.
  • Maintain lab space, documentation and inventory in accordance with good lab practices.
  • Participate in training events for researchers involved in the graduate program including appropriate transferrable skills modules recorded in their research and professional development plan (e.g. research skills and academic writing).
  • Contribute periodic scientific reports along with promoting and disseminating results of the project through abstracts, manuscripts, presentations and outreach events. 

Qualifications/Skills required:

The candidate should have a 1st class or a 2:1 honours first degree in any of the following areas: Immunology, Pharmacology, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Biology or related area.

The ideal candidate should have experience in as many of the following techniques: Cell (fully differentiated and primary cells) Biology; Molecular Biology; Protein / Gene analysis; Histology; and Immunohistochemistry, Flow Cytometry.

Candidates should have excellent communication and organisational skills; be highly motivated and passionate about mucosal immunology; and have strong written, oral and interpersonal skills. The candidate should be able to work independently and as a part of team. Leadership skills are desirable for this fellowship.

The successful candidate will be enrolled in a 4-year structured PhD programme in School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science.

Apply: Interested candidates should contact Dr Colm Collins with a cover letter and CV, including the names of two academic references.  Closing date 15th January 2020.