The role of interferon lambdas in liver inflammation and fibrosis

Applications are currently being accepted for a 3 year PhD project in the immunology of Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) at Western Sydney University Blacktown and the Westmead Institute for Medical Research. The project will be conducted in the research group of Professor Golo Ahlenstiel and will remain open until a suitable candidate is found.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterised by the accumulation of excess fat in the liver, termed steatosis. NAFLD encompasses simple steatosis and its inflammatory state called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) which is a core driver of liver cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This project will focus on the role of interferon lambdas (IFN-λs) on the progression of liver inflammation and fibrosis.

Interferon lambda (IFN-λ) is a central antiviral cytokine in the liver that is elevated in NASH, and that contributes to the progression of liver inflammation and fibrosis. The mechanism of IFN-λ induction, and cells involved however, remain unknown. We hypothesise that microbial ligands originating from the gut, enter the liver in the portal blood and stimulate IFN-λ expression. This project will aim to determine the contribution and identity of intestinal biota that stimulate IFN-λ, the responsive cells, and the mechanisms by which IFN-λ drives liver inflammation. We will utilise cutting edge genomics, primary cell culture, flow cytometry and molecular biology techniques to shed some light on the role of IFN-λ in NASH. This study will pave the way for future treatments aimed at halting the progression of inflammation in NASH.

Contact Professor Golo Ahlenstiel at to discuss your eligibility, the project requirements and your intention to apply.