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Duration

One year, full time

Application Deadline

30 June 2020

Location

St George's, University of London

UK, EU and non-EU (international) citizens may apply

Start dates

September 2020

Biomedical scientists work at the cutting edge of research and medicine, helping to solve some of the most threatening diseases and conditions facing mankind. St George’s boasts a renowned heritage in this field, constantly developing new and innovative solutions to enhance diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of numerous diseases. Edward Jenner, the ‘father of immunology’ who successfully performed the first vaccination against smallpox, was based at St George’s. More recently, our research has included a focus on tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV in low and middle-income countries.

This compelling course enables you to continue that pioneering work. It will provide you with the skills, knowledge, and experience for a rewarding career in biomedical science or to progress on to a fulfilling research degree such as a PhD. 

You can look forward to working directly alongside high-calibre researchers who are leading and respected experts in their fields. You will also learn numerous, valuable transferable skills including; critical appraisal, problem-solving, research techniques, utilising large data, numeracy, and presenting skills.

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Highlights

  • Excellent Image Resource and Biomedical Research facilities to help you develop strong research knowledge and skills.

  • Shared campus with St George’s Hospital, one of the largest teaching hospitals in the UK.

  • Expertise in clinical, epidemiological and laboratory research within both the university and the hospital.

Tuition fees

2020 UK/EU: £13,250

2020 Non-EU (international): £23,000

Fees are reviewed annually.

For more information, see our fees and funding pages.

Funding your study

We have a range of funding opportunities available for students. You may be eligible for the following.

  • A postgraduate loan from the UK government of up to £10,609. Find out more information about postgraduate loans at fees and funding.

  • An alumni discount – if you're a former St George’s student you can qualify for an additional 10% discount from this course.

For more information, see our fees and funding pages.

Read more information about our courses and university services terms and conditions.

To be considered for this course, you will need to:

  • meet the entry criteria

  • write a personal statement

  • provide two suitable references.

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Undergraduate degree or equivalent

You should have or be expected to achieve, a minimum of a second class degree (2:2). For healthcare graduates, a pass is required. All degrees must be awarded before 1st August on the year of entry.

We welcome applications from individuals from a range of backgrounds, including humanities, science and healthcare.

We may invite you to interview if are unable to make a decision directly from your application. If you are invited for an interview you will be asked to write a short paper (no more than half a page) on a subject associated with biomedical research.

Alternative professional qualifications, or previous related experience, may be considered and we encourage you to apply.

English language

For details on English Language requirements, please see here. This is a Group 2 course.

Personal statement and references

You will be asked to outline your reasons for applying for the course in a brief personal statement on the application form. You will also need to provide two satisfactory references. See the ‘Apply’ tab for more information.

On the Infection and Immunity pathway you will be taught the essentials of conducting high quality research through a range of core modules, and will gain a detailed knowledge of infection and immunity before undertaking your research project. 

The MRes is made up of 180 credits. All modules are compulsory, and will equip you with the skills and knowledge to conduct high quality research. 

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Core modules

Research methods

15 credits

Statistics

15 credits

Research project planning and management

15 credits

Research project

105 credits

Specialist module – Infection and Immunity

This 30 credit module covers the broad area of infectious disease, taking advantage of active research taking place at St George’s by exploring some of the specific causes of infection such as tuberculosis, malaria, MRSA and viral infections such as HIV.  You will learn about the cellular and molecular responses to infection, including innate and adoptive immune responses, and responses that are deleterious.

The module provides insight into the pathogenesis of infection and the virulence mechanisms involved. It also demonstrates how an understanding of these processes drives vaccine development, antibiotic treatment and immunotherapy. You will learn how new sequencing technologies and ‘omics’ methodologies are providing novel insights into the human microbiota, susceptibility to infection, tracking of infectious disease, and mechanisms underlying resistance to antibiotics.

Past research projects

The substantive research project is worth 105 credits. Here are some examples of past student projects:

Bioinfomatic approaches to meta-data analysis of drugs and drug targets

Aims: Understand how NF-kB signalling is inhibited during human cytomegalovirus replication.

Brief overview: Human cytomegalovirus is major human pathogen affecting both immunocompetent and immunodeficient patient populations. We and others have discovered that the NF-kB inflammatory signalling pathway is important for HCMV replication. Moreover, we have discovered a novel mechanism by which we believe HCMV antagonizes NF-kB signalling. Therefore, we will investigate antagonism of NF-kB signalling in HCMV infected cells. The Strang laboratory is an open, welcoming, multi-disciplinary environment. As in previous years, motivated students who work to high standards may see their work published in high quality professional journals.

Methods used for data collection: Standard molecular and cellular techniques for protein and gene expression analysis. Chemical biology and chemical genetics.

Lung-targeted vaccination for tuberculosis

Background: Tuberculosis (TB) is a global health problem, affecting millions of people worldwide. One-third of the world’s population is estimated to be latently infected with M. tuberculosis, and approximately 5–10 per cent of exposed individuals are expected to develop TB. Improved control measures at many different levels, including a more effective vaccination approach, are urgently needed to combat the world-wide spread of the TB epidemic. New vaccination approaches have been proposed, either as a replacement for the BCG vaccine, or as a boost to it, and a number of those are in clinical trials. In the meantime, further studies are needed, in order to provide the next generation of TB vaccine candidates for future clinical trials.

Aims: To test the vaccine potential in mice of a novel vaccine candidate against tuberculosis, which showed promise in our preliminary studies.

The new vaccine approach relies on lung heparin targeting and nanoparticles for antigen delivery. We used the heparin-binding hemaglutinin adhesion (HBHA) protein of M. tuberculosis fused to the protective Ag85B to coat the surface of NaMA nanoparticles (Particle Sciences Inc) in order to generate the ‘NanoAH’ vaccine. Thus we have already shown that using this strategy, immune responses can be induced locally (in the lungs) and systemically (in the blood) and that the induced immune response resulted in reduction of the TB infection in mice superior to that conferred by the current TB vaccine (BCG) alone. However, the one difficulty of this approach is that the Ag85B-HBHA (AH) protein is difficult to generate in soluble form in E. coli. Therefore, we generated a truncated version of HBHA that still retains heparin-binding capacity but is smaller in size and easily generated.

The aim of this project is to test whether the truncated version of HBHA could be used to replace the full-length protein without affecting the efficacy of the NanoAH vaccine. The new version of the vaccine is termed NanoAHC.

Methods used for data collection:

  • quality control of the AHC fusion protein (by SDS-PAGE and Western), which has already been generated in the lab, and additional purification if required
  • immunisation of mice intranasally
  • immunological assays (antibody measurement in serum, analysis of sIgA in lung lavage, proliferative cellular responses using spleen cells)
  • infection of mice with MTB (the student will only be an observer)
  • bacteriological assays
  • statistical evaluation of data using GraphPad Statmate 2 software
Inflammatory mediator production resulting from interactions between house dust mite allergens and stimulation of virus pattern-recognition receptors

Aims: To investigate the relationship between ROS production and inflammatory mediator upregulation in airway epithelial cells following exposure to allergens and virus surrogates.

Brief overview: We have discovered that the major house dust mite allergen called Der p 1, which is a cysteine peptidase, unexpectedly activates a signalling pathway which converges with the production of reactive oxidants (ROS) triggered when virus pattern recognition receptors (TLR3, MDA5, RIG-I) are stimulated. There is considerable interest in this mechanism because of its potential relevance to the triggering of asthma exacerbations. Transcription factors which promote the expression of cytokines responsible for the development and maintenance of allergy are redox sensitive, and many people with asthma have impaired antioxidant defences, leading to oxidative stress and increased gene expression. As a key step in exploring this interaction between allergen- and virus-dependent signalling we now wish to establish which mediators are upregulated.

Methods used for data collection techniques: General cell and molecular biological approaches, Click chemistry, quantitative protein determination, ELISA/chemiluminescent assay, fluorescent antibody labelling, fluorescent intracellular probe labelling, and reaction kinetics.

Identification of glucose transporters in the airway epithelium and their role in glucose homeostasis

Aims: To further identify glucose transporter isoforms in the airway and distal lung epithelium and characterise their transport function.

Brief overview: We have identified some glucose transporters that are important for glucose homeostasis across the airway epithelium (GLUT1, 2 and 10). However, a number of other isoforms that have been identified by transcriptomic screening may also have important function. This project will investigate the expression of GLUT and SGLT mRNA in primary airway cells and tissue from mice and humans. The abundance and localisation of key isoforms will be investigated using protein biochemistry and histological techniques. The function of these transporters and their role in glucose homeostasis across the lung epithelium will also be investigated using glucose transport assays. The identification of functionally important glucose transporters will be aided by the use of mice in which GLUT isoforms (1,2,5 and 10) and SGLT1 have been genetically knocked out.

Methods used for data collection: Mouse and human airway cell culture, PCR, western blot, immunohistochemistry, glucose flux measurement.

Teaching is delivered through a variety of methods, such as lectures, course-specific seminars and small group sessions. You will also participate in self-directed study and wider reading, as well as individual and group practical sessions.

St George’s is the only university in the country to give you the opportunity to undertake a nine month research project in this topic. This will give you time to immerse yourself in detailed research, generating high quality data that could be impactful enough for publication. It’s incredibly valuable work and has led to many exciting discoveries and important breakthroughs.

You will have the freedom to choose from a wide-ranging list of projects, and to work in a vibrant research environment with world-renowned researchers. You will also work with their research teams, PhD students and post-doctoral scientists to gain insight and experience over the course of your project.

At St George’s, you will benefit from working as part of a small, close-knit team. Students, clinicians and researchers work happily and effectively together. St George’s is more a small community than a large anonymous institution, with all the advantages that brings for personal input and development.

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Teaching and learning methods

During the first term you will meet potential supervisors to familiarise yourself with the research activity within each pathway and to identify an appropriate project. Broadly speaking, your topic should be within the fields of biomedical sciences, healthcare, or health services and use appropriate scientific methods.

The self-directed component of your course includes the in-depth study of an area of interest, developing research and presentation skills, and gaining insight into possible careers.

Teaching for core modules is concentrated in the autumn term. Teaching for specialist modules takes place over the year. Throughout this time you will either be attending lectures or laboratory sessions on most days of the week. Students choose their projects and start with laboratory work from mid-October, and complete their research by September.

Dissertation projects will involve the assembly, analysis and interpretation of data. Project titles and areas for research will be identified by module leaders and will relate to the pathway selected by the student.

Assessment methods

Assessments are designed to help students with preparation for their dissertation. They help you review published work critically, use appropriate experimental design, and analyse experimental data. They also enable you to develop scientific writing and presentation skills.

All modules are assessed through written assignments or an oral presentation, with the exception of the statistics module which is assessed via examination. The optional modules require the submission of written reports. Following the research project, you will be asked to present a poster on your research.

If you want to pursue a career in biomedical research – whether in academia, industry or government – this course will open up a world of opportunities. Many St George’s graduates have gone on to work in a variety of exciting and fulfilling careers in the biotech industry.

The course is highly effective in accelerating your development within your general healthcare career. The depth and quality of the academic research that you will undertake on your nine month project will also put you in a good position to apply for a PhD.

All applications must be submitted through our online application system.

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How to apply

Biomedical Science MRes - Infection and Immunity application link

  1. Click the application link above.

  2. Create an account.

  3. Complete the application form and upload any relevant documents. You can save a partly completed form and return to it later. Please make sure you complete all sections. Please make sure that the information you provide is accurate, including the options you select in menus.

  4. Add pgadmissions@sgul.ac.uk to your address book to ensure you do not miss any important emails from us.

  5. When you have checked that your application is complete and accurate, click ‘submit’.

You can track your application online.

References

When completing your application, you will be asked to provide contact details of two referees. Please ensure these details are accurate. As soon as you have submitted your application, your referees will be contacted by the university asking them to upload a reference to your online application.

One must be a recent academic reference. The other should be either a second academic reference or a professional/employer reference. They should cover your suitability for the course and your academic ability.

Your referees should know you well enough, in an official capacity, to write about you and your suitability for higher education. We do not accept references from family, friends, partners, ex-partners or yourself.

We will send reminder emails to your referees but it is your responsibility to ensure that contact details are correct and referees are available to submit a reference. References should be uploaded within two weeks of making your application.

Apply now

Duration

One year, full time

Application Deadline

30 June 2020

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