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Defining antigenic structure of avian influenza virus haemagglutinin protein to generate broadly reactive antibodies

Project Description

Avian influenza viruses are an increasing threat to global poultry production and, through zoonotic infection, to human health where they are considered viruses with pandemic potential. Vaccination of poultry is a key element of disease control in endemic countries, but vaccine effectiveness is persistently challenged by the emergence of antigenic variants. Therefore, there is a need for more effective vaccines reducing the disease impacts on poultry and halting zoonotic transmission of virus to humans. This PhD project will design and develop broadly cross-protective vaccines by identifying conserved antigenic epitopes on the influenza virus surface glycoproteins and construct novel synthetic antigens that elicit broadly cross-protective immunity in chickens against multiple subtypes of avian influenza viruses affecting poultry.

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For informal enquiries regarding this project please email the project supervisors noted above.
Please note: Due to the current COVID-19 situation there are likely to be delays with recruitment - please email Admissions Enquiries with any queries.

Funding Notes

This is a fully funded studentship open to science graduates with, or who anticipate obtaining, at least 2.1 or equivalent in relevant biological subject in undergraduate degree, or a Masters degree - subject to university regulations. Open to UK students and eligible EU students who qualify for home-rated fees - see Residential Eligibility Guidelines on website for details. Eligible students will receive minimum annual stipend of £15,285; university registration fees will be paid. Students without English as first language must provide evidence of IELTS score of 7.0, no less than 6.5 in subsections.


1. Peacock T P, Harvey W T, Sadeyen J R, Reeve R, Iqbal M (2018). The molecular basis of antigenic variation among A(H9N2) avian influenza viruses. Emerging Microbes and Infections 7 (1) , 176.
2. Peacock T P, Benton D J, James J, Sadeyen J-R, Chang P, Sealy J E, Bryant J E, Martin S R, Shelton H, Barclay W S, Iqbal M (2017). Immune escape variants of H9N2 influenza viruses containing deletions at the haemagglutinin receptor binding site retain fitness in vivo and display enhanced zoonotic characteristics. Journal of Virology 91 (14) , e00218-17.
3. Sealy J E, Yaqub T, Peacock T P, Chang P, Ermetal B, Clements A, Sadeyen J R, Mehboob A, Shelton H, Bryant J E, Daniels R S, McCauley J W, Iqbal M (2019). Association of increased receptor-binding avidity of influenza A(H9N2) viruses with escape from antibody-based immunity and enhanced zoonotic potential. Emerging Infectious Diseases 25 (1) , 63-72.
4. Chang P, Sealy J E, Sadeyen J R, Iqbal M (2018). Amino acid residue 217 in the hemagglutinin 1 glycoprotein is a key mediator of avian influenza H7N9 virus antigenicity. Journal of Virology 93 (1) , e01627-18.

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