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Cross presentation of antigens of recombinant overlapping peptides to optimise vaccines against tumour and infectious diseases

Project Description

We have developed a technology to producing overlapping peptides - bacterial expression of an amino acid sequence corresponding to overlapping peptide sequences spanning the length of a protein of interest interspersed with enzymatic cleavage sites. The recombinant product can then be broken down by the cleavage sites for enzymes present in human antigen presenting cells to have a therapeutic effect. The overlapping peptides made that way are called recombinant overlapping peptides (ROPs).

This technology has applications in vaccine and diagnosis development. For vaccines, it can be used alone or in combination with other therapies to treat a wide range of human cancers or infectious diseases. The technology can also be used in diagnosis to assess T cell immunity which is important for monitoring and controlling cancer and microbial infections. The ROP technology platform has a number of distinct advantages over existing methods of activating or monitoring cellular immunity.

A DPhil student is required to explore the technology further to look for possibilities to enhance antigen presentation in both antigen presenting cells and target cells. This will be done through developing one or two candidates of vaccines to preclinical stage.

The DPhil student will be trained to learn in-depth on antigen presentation and cross-presentation. He/she will learn a wide spectrum of technologies from biochemistry (protein expression and purification) to immuno-assays (antigen presentation, T cell measurement etc). He/she will also carry out collaborative research with other academic and industrial institutions.

Cai, L., Zhang, J., Zhu, R., Shi, W., Xia, X., Edwards, M., . . . Lu, W. (2017). Protective cellular immunity generated by cross-presenting recombinant overlapping peptide proteins. Oncotarget, 8(44), 76516-76524. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.20407

Tchilian, E., Ahuja, D., Hey, A., Beverley, P., & Jiang, S. (2013). Immunization with different formulations of Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigen 85A induces immune responses with different specificity and protective efficacy. Vaccine. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2013.07.040

Zhang, H., Hong, H., Li, D., Ma, S., Di, Y., Stoten, A., . . . Jiang, S. (2009). Comparing pooled peptides with intact protein for accessing cross-presentation pathways for protective CD8+and CD4+T cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 284(14), 9184-9191. doi:10.1074/jbc.M809456200

Funding Notes

All complete applications received by 12 noon (UK time) on Friday 11 January 2020 will automatically be considered for all relevant competitive University and funding opportunities, including the Clarendon Fund, Medical Research Council funding, and various College funds. Please refer to the Funding and Costs webpage (View Website) for this course for further details relating to funded scholarships and divisional funding opportunities.

Funded studentships are highly competitive and are awarded to the highest ranked applicant(s) based on the advertised entry requirements for each programme of study.


Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Academic references are strongly encouraged, though you may use up to one professional reference provided that it is relevant to the course.

How good is research at University of Oxford in Clinical Medicine?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 238.51

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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