Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) Master’s student Hylton Rodel has been awarded an AHRI/UCL PhD Studentship funded by University College London’s (UCL) Global Engagement Office.

Hylton, who is currently part of AHRI faculty member Dr Alex Sigal’s group, will be joining Professor Mahdad Noursadeghi‘s lab in the Department of Infection and Immunity at UCL for a dual supervision PhD. 

The Sigal Group has previously shown that when a cell is infected with many Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) bacteria, it’s more likely to die than if it were infected with just a few single bacteria, and that if the bacteria are tightly grouped together in a clump, they are even more deadly to the cells that they infect. Hylton’s PhD project is looking at which genes are turned on or off in cells that are infected with these Mtb clumps.

“By understanding how cells respond to this type of Mtb infection, we hope to identify targets for therapeutic intervention that could change the course of an Mtb infection,” explained Hylton.

“This could prevent people from progressing to active tuberculosis disease and provide insight into how the trajectory of an Mtb infection may be determined early on.”

“We’re very excited about this joint PhD. Hylton is a very good student in the lab and has been doing some great work looking at TB infection in the macrophages, developing also some new capacity to do cellular work at the Institute. This is a great offer and we are very proud of him,” said Dr Sigal.  

Hylton says he is honoured to receive the scholarship and is looking forward to furthering his research in London.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues over at UCL. Getting the chance to see and experience the lifestyle in London for a bit is quite exciting, and it represents a fantastic opportunity to learn as much as possible.”

*The call for the 2020 PhD studentship is open. Click here for more details.