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(BBSRC DTP) Elucidating the antiviral mechanism of graphene oxide

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr Hui Lu, Dr Shiu-Wan Chan, Prof P Xiao  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Graphene and graphene-related materials have attracted huge attention in recent years due to their unique and outstanding properties. Among these, graphene oxide (GO) has great potential in biomedical applications, such as drug delivery, tissue engineering, and bioimaging due to its good biocompatibility, water dispersibility, and the presence of various functional groups for further functionalisation with other molecules. On the other hand, GO was found efficient for capture and destruction of EV71 and H9N2 viruses and releasing viral RNA at elevated temperature, which demonstrated the antiviral activities of GO. Recently, we have developed a new method to synthesize high quality monolayer GO at a range sizes, and our preliminary results indicate that GO is not toxic to human cells but has size-dependent inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 pseudotyped virus. In this study, we will investigate in detail how the lateral size of GO affect its antiviral activity and GO’s antiviral mechanisms using native viruses of global health significance (e.g. Zika virus, respiratory syncytia virus, influenza virus) and a pseudotyped virus system we recently developed for  high-risk viruses (e.g. SARS-CoV-2) at a reduced risk level with H&S approval.   GO samples will be synthesised and interaction between GO and viruses will be studies using various virus and cell viability assays and characterised using a range of physicochemical characterisation techniques. Taken together, this project aims to understand GO’s property (efficacy and toxicity) towards viruses i.e. if it is GO size-dependent, and the molecular mechanisms of GO antiviral activity. This multidisciplinary project will provide an excellent opportunity for a self-motivated student to learn and develop many essential experimental skills and knowledge in biochemistry, cell biology, virology, and materials characterisations. The results of this study may provide important insight in detecting and diagnosis of viral infection, prevention and/or therapy of viruses of global health importance including that of the COVID-19 virus. 


Applicants must have obtained or be about to obtain a First or Upper Second class UK honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science, engineering or technology.  

Before you Apply 

Applicants must make direct contact with preferred supervisors before applying. It is your responsibility to make arrangements to meet with potential supervisors, prior to submitting a formal online application.  

How To Apply 

To be considered for this project you MUST submit a formal online application form - full details on eligibility how to apply can be found on the BBSRC DTP website  

Your application form must be accompanied by a number of supporting documents by the advertised deadlines. Without all the required documents submitted at the time of application, your application will not be processed and we cannot accept responsibility for late or missed deadlines. Incomplete applications will not be considered. If you have any queries regarding making an application please contact our admissions team [Email Address Removed]  

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion  

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website  

Funding Notes

Studentship funding is for 4 years. This scheme is open to both the UK and international applicants. We are only able to offer a limited number of studentships to applicants outside the UK. Therefore, full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.


Chan SW, Shafi T, and Ford RC. Kite-Shaped Molecules Block SARS-CoV-2 Cell Entry at a Post-Attachment Step. Viruses. (2021) 13(11): 2306.
Mufrrih M, Chen B, Chan SW. Zika Virus Induces an Atypical Tripartite Unfolded Protein Response with Sustained Sensor and Transient Effector Activation and a Blunted BiP Response. mSphere (2021) 6(3):e0036121.
Seifi T, Kamali AR. Antiviral performance of graphene-based materials with emphasis on COVID-19: A review. Medicine in Drug Discovery, (2021) 11 Article 100099
Sim HJ, Xiao P, Lu H. Pyrenebutyric acid-assisted room-temperature synthesis of large-size monolayer graphene oxide with high mechanical strength. Carbon (2021) Volume 185: Pages 224-233.
Song Z, Wang X, Zhu G, Nian Q, Zhou H, Yang D, Qin C, Tang R. Virus capture and destruction by label-free graphene oxide for detection and disinfection applications. Small. 2015 Mar;11(9-10):1171-6.
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