Improving the vaccine-induced immune response in elderly: exploration of the mechanisms at play and routes to translational solutions

A 3-year fully-funded PhD studentship is offered to study how the formulation, dose, regimen and delivery route, and the resulting antigen presentation, differently influence the quantity and quality of vaccine-immune response at different age of life, and to use this knowledge for the development of more immunogenic vaccines.

Start date
1 October 2021
3 years
Application deadline
Funding information

Stipend of £15,609. Cost of living top up of £2,200. Consumables and travel, £6,000. Covers University fees of £2,250 (including 50% feed reduction). All the above for 3.5 years.


A 3-year fully-funded PhD studentship is offered to explore the relationship between antigen presentation by different vaccine doses, regimens, adjuvants and delivery routes on the immune response, and the specific impact on aged individuals as compared with younger adults.

Immunity is modified (suboptimal?) at the age extremes, leaving children and the elderly at more risk of morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases. This was dramatically shown by the toll the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic took on the elderly populations in all countries. This project aims at exploring the mechanisms behind the impact of old age on vaccine responsiveness to different types of vaccines and vaccine regimens. Animal (mouse) models of ageing will be used and developed. The project will also incorporate a translational aspect: the student will leverage the information gathered from the mechanisms of hyporesponsiveness in older age to explore potential solutions to improving vaccine immunogenicity in older individuals. This will incorporate alternative vaccine regimens but also alternative vaccine formulations and adjuvants. In collaboration with Dr Anita Milicic at the University of Oxford, the student will specifically explore the capacity of different adjuvants and vaccine formulations to compensate for the lower responsiveness in ageing immune system. The project will benefit from access to clinically relevant adjuvants that are being developed and produced through a BMGF-funded programme for adjuvant development awarded to the Vaccine Formulation Institute (Switzerland) in collaboration with Dr Milicic in Oxford.

Related links
Christine Rollier is the new Professor of Vaccinology at Surrey Anita Milicic School of Biosciences and Medicine - Section of Immunology

Eligibility criteria

Candidates must hold a  First or Upper Second Class Honours degree from the UK (or equivalent qualification from EU Institutions) in a relevant subject area.

UK or EU students are eligible.

IELTS requirements: An IELTS Academic of 6.5 or above with 6 in each individual category (or equivalent qualification from other agencies). Find out more about English Language requirements.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Biosciences and Medicine PhD course page (apply tab). In your application, please mention this studentship to be considered. Instead of a project proposal, upload a cover letter indicating why you have applied and what you hope to achieve by undertaking this PhD. Your CV should include your course modules and marks (including predicted grade if you are in your final year).

Informal enquiries should be sent to Professor Christine Rollier.

Shortlisted candidates will be contacted to arrange an interview via Zoom (expected w/c 12 July 2021).

Application deadline

Contact details

Christine Rollier


Tel: 07880917585


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