How does the E5 oncoprotein contribute to human papillomavirus replication and disease?

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The School of Molecular and Cellular Biology invites applications from prospective postgraduate researchers who wish to commence study for a PhD in the academic year 2024/25.

We especially welcome applications that connect to the School's core research areas, which are understanding life in molecular detail, with particular relevance to infectious diseases and cancers. 

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is responsible for 5% of human cancers including cervical, other anogenital and an increasing number of oral cancers. HPV is prevalent in low and middle income countries, where access to the HPV vaccine is limited. Despite its importance, there are no good antiviral drugs for HPV-associated cancers. Therefore, understanding how HPV causes cancer is crucial to aid in the identification of new targets for therapy.

The Macdonald lab is recognised as an international leader in the study of HPV–host interactions and in understanding which signalling pathways contribute to disease (selected recent high impact publications from the lab PMID:37443304; PMID:33627786; PMID:33303976).

For this project, we are interested in the HPV E5 oncoprotein, which we have previously shown is a novel virus-encoded ion channel, or “viroporin” (PMID:22357280); however, how E5 contributes to transformation and virus replication is not well understood. In this project, we will use HPV viruses lacking E5 and through a multi-omics approach (e.g. RNA-sequencing and proteomics) identify which cell pathways and processes are controlled by E5 in primary and cancer cells from different anatomical sites of infection. Using a cell biology and biochemical approach we will then determine how these pathways regulate the virus life cycle and pathogenesis. Ultimately, we will provide new biological knowledge and insights into this crucial pathogen.

The Macdonald group is based in newly refurbished lab space, is highly supportive, well-funded and is situated in close proximity to core research infrastructure. Our people centric approach ensures that all graduate students in the group are appropriately mentored, have the opportunity to grow as scientists, to present their data to colleagues, to publish appropriate research and to be guided to the next stage of their career. We are collaborative and work with scientists, clinicians and industrialists in Leeds and beyond to undertake impactful research. 


Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline.

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Biological Sciences minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 6.0 overall, with no element less than 5.5
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 87 with the listening and reading element no less than 20, writing element no less than 21 and the speaking element no less than 22. 

How to apply

To apply for this project applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable)
  • Evidence of funding

To help us identify that you are applying for this project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert

For information about the application process please contact the Faculty Admissions Team:


Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

This project is open to applicants who have the funding to support their own studies or who have a sponsor who will cover these costs.

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