Vaccination is one of the most effective strategies to prevent disease and stop transmission. Many successful vaccines were obtained by empiric attenuation by repeated passage in animals or cultured cells, becoming in many cases unable to propagate and transmit. However, the mechanisms by which these viruses lost virulence without compromising immunogenicity remain largely unknown. This project will study the complex interplay between proteins and RNA that occurs during viral infection. We will use vaccinia virus (the vaccine used for the successful eradication of smallpox) as a tractable model to understand how viral and cellular RNA-binding proteins interact with the host cell and determine the impact of these interactions on viral attenuation. This project will therefore provide both fundamental and applicable insights for the rational design of live attenuated vaccines and the molecular mechanisms that govern protein- RNA interactions during virus infection.
The project will be performed in the Maluquer Lab at the University of Surrey (www.maluquerlab.org) in close collaboration with the group of Dr Alfredo Castello at the MRC Centre for Virus Research (CVR) – University of Glasgow (www.castellolab.com), whose expertise in protein-RNA interactions is wonderfully complementary to the expertise of the Maluquer Lab in poxvirus biology and innate immunity. We are aiming to appoint a motivated and inquisitive individual with relevant skills and able to lead a project individually and as part of a team.
The candidate will be joining a group consisting of two post-doctoral researchers and 4 PhD students at different career. We are based at the School of Biosciences and Medicine, which facilitates access to state-of-the-art facilities and brings an international collegiate mass of researchers dedicated to the multidisciplinary study of human health, including specific sections for virology, bacteriology, immunology, biochemistry and systems biology. The Virology Section is an expanding unit with 5 independent group leaders with complementary interests in multiple aspects of virus biology including entry and morphogenesis; transcription and translation; transmission; and immune evasion.
A 3.5-year fully funded studentship open to applicants worldwide starting in October 2022. Funding includes stipend, full fees and a research grant.
More information on the School of Biosciences and Medicine.
A First or Upper Second-Class Honours degree from the UK (or equivalent qualification from international Institutions) or Masters degree in a relevant subject area.
English language requirements: An IELTS Academic of 6.5 or above with 6 in each individual category (or equivalent qualification from other agencies).
How to apply
Applications should be submitted via the online application portal for Biosciences and Medicine PhDs.
This project is part of the Faculty-funded studentship scheme and you can express interest in one or two of the projects available via this scheme. When completing your application, in place of a research proposal, please provide a 1-page (maximum) document containing the reference numbers(s), project title(s) and supervisor name(s) of the project or two projects you have selected, together with an explanation of your motivations for wanting to study for a PhD and your reasons for selecting the project(s) you have chosen.
The reference number for this project is FHMS PL - BM - 17.
For those interested in the project described above, we strongly encourage informal enquiries to be sent to Dr Carlos Maluquer de Motes ([Email Address Removed]).