The role of lung alveolar macrophages in SARS Cov-2 replication and pathogenesis

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 1 January 2022.


To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for PhD Biomedical Sciences, then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship and name the project at the top of your personal statement.

Online application

Before applying, please ensure you have read the Doctoral College’s general information on applying for a research degree.

For more information on the admissions process please contact

Project description 

The pathogenesis of respiratory infectious diseases is critically influenced by alveolar macrophages (AMs). The function of these cells is significantly modified by interactions with other cells and by environmental factors. AMs are in the first line of defence against inhaled pathogens; therefore, they play key roles in viral infections. This project will characterise the role of AMs in SARS Cov-2 infection and explore the effects of cellular interactions and environmental pollution on coronavirus induced AM responses. The PhD candidate will make use of our new AM models to study virus replication and relevant cytokine responses of AM-like human macrophages to common cold coronaviruses and SARS-Cov-2 in vitro. The student will evaluate virus infection in AM-lung epithelial cell co-cultures and will assess the impact of environmental pollutants and bacterial infections on coronavirus pathogenesis.

The project will be primarily based in the laboratory of Dr Fejer at the University of Plymouth in collaboration with Professor Thompson and Drs Salih and Jarvis.


Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant masters qualification or extended laboratory research experience. Experience in immunology, microbiology, cellular and molecular biology

International students must have a IELTS score of 6.5 or above (with no less than 5.5 in any element).

The studentship is supported for three years and includes full home tuition fees plus a stipend of £15,609 per annum (2021/22 rate). The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for home fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover international fees will have to cover the difference between the home and the international tuition fee rates (approximately £12,697 per annum).

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Gyorgy Fejer via email.

Please see a list of supporting documents to upload with your application.

For more information on the admissions process generally, please contact

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on 15 October 2021. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received a response within six weeks of the closing date should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.