Stem Cell Systems

Macrophages are white blood cells that are essential to the normal development and function of healthy tissue.

While a great deal is known about the role of macrophages during an infection, the role of these cells during tissue injury is less understood. Nevertheless, factors produced by macrophages are targeted by therapies used to treat chronic inflammation. We are developing a better molecular map of macrophage biology, and now seek to recapitulate this in synthetically derived cells.

Project SupervisorsProjects:

Professor Christine Wells

Dr Matthew Rutar

Project 1: Mapping Mincle signalling:

Project supervisor: Professor Christine Wells; Project Co-supervisor: Dr Matthew Rutar

The C-type lectin, Mincle is a protein expressed on the surface of macrophages associated with blood vessels in the eye and brain.  In this project, you will use induced pluripotent stem cells to make macrophages. You will use engineer and express a chimeric receptor of Mincle, with the aim of mapping the signalling pathway that it controls. The project will give us tools and insights into the pathways that lead to tissue damage after sterile injury or during chronic disease.

Project 2: An in silico blood atlas.

Project supervisor: Professor Christine Wells

When we make blood in a dish, how do we know that it is equivalent to blood that it made in the bone marrow? We will create a virtual map of blood development, and overlay leukemic cells onto this map. This is a computational biology project that will work within the environment to compile an expression atlas of blood differentiation. Students will need to show some competency in programming languages such as Bash or R scripting. The research project will assess the genetic program necessary for blood differentiation and maturation.