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  Defining Immune potentiating mechanism of vaccines targeting antigens to chicken immune cells (Ref FHMS - DTP - 07 BIO)

   Faculty of Health & Medical Sciences

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  Prof Christine Rollier, Prof Munir Iqbal  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

We developed an innovative targeted antigen delivery vaccine technology that selectively targets antigens to chicken antigen-presenting cells. We fuse antibody fragments specific to receptors expressed on chicken immune cells to the antigens of interest. The resulting vaccines induce a faster and stronger antibody response compared with untargeted, conventional vaccines. Furthermore, while the effectiveness of conventional vaccines is severely compromised by interference with maternal antibodies transferred to the chicken, we showed that our targeted vaccines efficiently overcome this interference. The underlying mechanisms for such efficient adjuvant capacity are poorly understood. Here, we propose to identify the factors and the mechanisms that our vaccine exploits in order to enhance the impact and utility of this technology. We aim to identify if our new vaccines preferentially activate, stabilise, and maintain antigen presentation, processing, and persistence as compared with conventional vaccines, or preferentially drives the induction of host immune stimulatory factors.

Samples, reagents and techniques to characterise the chicken immune cell phenotypes are already established, therefore providing the ideal starting and training conditions for the student. The student will receive training on molecular biology, virology and immunology as well as specialised training in cell culture, virus propagation and characterization, recombinant antigen and antibody production and purification, flow cytometry, confocal microscopy, ELISPOT, single-cell isolation and sequencing.

The student will have opportunities to expand this technology to improve the protective efficacy of vaccines against a range of viral diseases affecting poultry. 

This project provides an opportunity to develop cutting-edge vaccinology expertise, in addition to developing tools and knowledge which could have far-reaching impact in veterinary medicine. The student will be fully supported by both Pirbright group of 5 postdoctoral scientists and 4-5 PhD students and Professor Rollier’s group at the University of Surrey (2 postdoctoral scientists and 2 PhD students).

The principal supervisors are Professor Christine Rollier (Surrey [Email Address Removed]) and Professor Munir Iqbal (Pirbright).

More information on the School of Biosciences and Medicine and The Pirbright Institute.

Entry requirements

Open to UK student with the project starting in October 2023. 

You will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for our PhD programme

How to apply

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the relevant principal supervisor(s) to discuss the project(s) before submitting their application.

Applications should be submitted via the programme page (N.B. Please select the October 2023 start date when applying).

You may opt to apply for a single project or for 2 of these Pathogens and Host Defences Doctoral Training Partnership studentship projects

When completing your application, in place of a research proposal, please provide a brief motivational document (1 page maximum) which specifies:

  • the reference numbers(s) for the project or two projects you are applying for, 
  • the project title(s) and principal supervisor name(s) 
  • if apply for two projects, please also indicate your order of preference for the projects
  • an explanation of your motivations for wanting to study for a PhD 
  • an explanation of your reasons for selecting the project(s) you have chosen

Additionally, to complete a full application, you MUST also email a copy of your CV and 1-page motivational document directly to the relevant project principal supervisor of each project you apply for. Due to short turnaround times for applicant shortlisting, failure to do this may mean that your application is not considered.

Please note that online interviews for shortlisted applicants are expected to take place during the week commencing 30th January.

Project ref number FHMS-DTP-07 BIO

Agriculture (1) Biological Sciences (4) Veterinary Sciences (35)

Funding Notes

Funding is for 3.5 years and includes UKRI-aligned stipend (£17,668 pa for 2022-23), approved University of Surrey fees and a research budget. This studentship is funded jointly by the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Surrey and The Pirbright Institute.
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