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, influences 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 for the elderly.

Start date

1 April 2022


3 years

Application deadline

Funding source

University of Surrey Advancement

Funding information

UK and international fees covered. Annual stipend of £16,000 (plus annual increases) plus a £2,200 cost of living top up.


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 international 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). For more details on English Language requirements see 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 21 February 2022).

Studentship FAQs

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Application deadline

Contact details

Christine Rollier

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