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DPhil (PhD) opportunity: Immune Profiling in Recurrent Implantation Failure

Despite the transfer of good quality embryos, live birth rates remain low after IVF treatment. In the UK, the clinical pregnancy rate (per embryo transferred) in women aged less than 35 years is 42% and the live birth rates (per cycle started) is 33%. It is thought that recurrent implantation failure (RIF), whereby multiple good quality embryos are transferred over a number of IVF cycles, may have an immune aetiology, although the precise pathological features are unknown. One hypothesis is that an abnormal maternal immune response prevents pregnancy, and many IVF clinics offer women immune therapies to treat this. However evidence for efficacy is minimal and randomised clinical trials have not been undertaken to justify the treatments. Indeed, the evidence that an immune pathology exists is sparse. This doctorate will address fundamental unanswered questions regarding immune cells in normal pregnancy and RIF.

You will perform state of the art flow cytometry in a large clinical study to first define the ‘normal’ immune profile of the uterine endometrium and the blood in the peri-implantation period and secondly to identify if this immune profile is different in women with RIF. Of particular interest in RIF are NK and CD4/CD8-T cells. Specific focus will be given to the Treg/Th17 axis and further studies will be undertaken using single cell RNASeq, CyTOF (Fluidgm) and downstream functional assays to extensively characterise the nature of these cells in normal human pregnancy tolerance and in RIF.

You will be supervised by Dr Ingrid Granne and Dr Jen Southcombe in the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Oxford, in collaboration with IVI centres around the UK. Research training, for example in experimental design, data interpretation, statistical analysis, and presentation and writing skills will also be provided. The department holds regular departmental seminars and journal clubs which you will be expected to attend and you will present at both during the studentship. You will also have the opportunity to attend and present your data in national and international meetings. 

See information on entry requirements and how to apply

Funding from the IVI Foundation is available to support UK/ EU University and College fees. International students are also welcome to apply and a contribution totalling £22,500 will be made to the fees over the three years of study. 

The proposed start date is October 2017. For informal enquiries about the project please contact either Dr Granne (Ingrid.granne@obs-gyn.ox.ac.uk) or Dr Southcombe (Jen.southcombe@obs-gyn.ox.ac.uk). If you have any questions about entry requirements or making your application, please contact graduate_studies@obs-gyn.ox.ac.uk.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 31st May 2017 and Interviews are expected to take place on Wednesday 7th June 2017.