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Elucidation of novel interactions between respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human airway epithelium predictive of severe RSV disease

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  • Full or part time
    Dr U Power
    Prof M Shields
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of severe lung diseases in young infants, the elderly and immunodeficient individuals. It causes symptoms ranging from runny noses to life threatening bronchiolitis and pneumonia. The World Health Organisation estimates that RSV infects >60 million infants worldwide and >160,000 deaths annually. Despite its clinical importance, there are no RSV vaccines or specific drugs. To develop effective drugs against RSV disease, it is essential to understand how RSV interacts with its target cells, human airway epithelium. We have established novel authentic models of RSV infection of paediatric airway epithelium based on primary airway epithelial cell cultures that look and behave like airway epithelium in infants. In a potentially major breakthrough, by comparing gene transcription profiles from RSV-infected airway epithelium cultures derived from cohorts of healthy infants with histories of severe or mild RSV disease, we identified a number of genes that may be associated with disease severity. This exciting project will characterise 2 of these genes in detail to determine their role in RSV cytopathogenesis and whether they have potential as biomarkers of severe RSV disease. If successful, this project may provide the rationale for designing drugs that treat RSV disease.


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

The English Language Unit (ELU) offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained from the ELU

Funding Notes


DEL Research Studentships

Eligibility for both fees and maintenance (£14,057 for 2015/16, 2016/17 TBC) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK resident or those EU residents who have lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship.

Non UK residents who hold EU residency may also apply but if successful may receive fees only.

For further details re eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) please click on the following link:


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Infection and Immunity, website for further details about the Centre:

When applying, please choose 'MEDICINE' as your subject area/School.

Related Subjects

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