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William James

With Dr Sally Cowley, investigating the biology of human tissue macrophages in health and disease

Macrophages, such as the microglia of the brain, play essential homeostatic, remodelling, recycling and defence functions in all the tissues of the body. When they are overwhelmed by specialized pathogens such as HIV-1, or chronic accumulations of debris such as amyloids, notably in neurodegenerative disease, their inflammatory response can result in serious tissue damage. In order to provide a physiologically authentic, yet genetically tractable model for the study of human tissue macrophages, we have developed a technology platform, based on human pluripotent stem cells, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing and directed differentiation. As a graduate research student in our laboratory, you will use these methods to investigate the function of defined candidate genes in these pathological processes.