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Identifying Dengue virus receptor proteins in Aedes aegypti mosquito

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Neglected tropical diseases caused by the Dengue virus (DENV), endemic Dengue fever and its more severe manifestation, Dengue syndrome, cause great socioeconomic loss as well as high mortality in Asia and South America. The incidence of Dengue has grown dramatically around the world in recent decades, with 2016 being characterized by large Dengue outbreaks especially in Brazil, India and the Western Pacific region. There is no specific treatment for Dengue/ severe Dengue, therefore transmission blocking vaccines (TBV) are an important strategy in fighting this virus.
DENV is transmitted by mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, predominantly A. aegypti and A. albopictus. DENV transmission to mosquitos occurs during a blood meal from an infected human or rodent, the virus enters the mosquito stomach (midgut), where it replicates rapidly. DENV is transmitted to the human host in insect saliva passed on during a mosquito bite. The virus’s ability to be taken up and replicate within a mosquito depends on the metabolic environment of mosquito tissues, mainly its midgut, which is the primary site of infection. The susceptibility of the host tissues to the virus is intimately dependent on the abundance and distribution of cell receptors, rendering the receptors valuable targets for the development of antiviral drugs.
This proposal seeks to identify novel insect factors required for DENV infection by employing biophysical techniques, as well as biochemical and cell-based assays to investigate both the molecular and functional principles for viral infection. Findings will be used as a basis for future development of an effective transmission blocking vaccine. Main techniques to be used during this PhD will be mass spectrometry, gene silencing, circular dichroism and recombinant protein production. Outcomes will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journals and at conferences.

The PhD studentship will be embedded in Keele University’s Centre for Applied Entomology and Parasitology (CAEP), an interdisciplinary research centre with collaborative links to Brazil, Burkina Faso and Ghana. We conduct fundamental and applied research on vector-borne viruses and parasites of medical importance, the insect vectors of these pathogens, insect agricultural pests, and fish diseases and immunology. Keele University houses facilities for mosquito-rearing and mass spectrometry as well as a state-of-the-art virus facility.

Candidate Profile
Master’s degree in the biochemical/ / biophysical/ chemical /natural sciences – minimum 2i classification or equivalent.

An interest in virology, protein production, and analysis using biophysical techniques such as mass spectrometry and CD spectroscopy. Computer literate.

Self-motivation and resilience to undertake advanced research study at PhD level.
Excellent communication, interpersonal and organizational skills.
The ability to work both independently and as part of a team
Natural inquisitiveness and a flair for problem solving. Willingness to learn new practical skills.


Previous experience in production of recombinant proteins in prokaryotic or eukaryotic systems.
Previous experience in biophysical techniques or structural biology.

Evidence of organizational and time management skills.
Evidence of self-motivation and resilience.

Applicants should provide a CV, personal statement and two referees.

Informal enquiries about the project should be made to the Project Lead: Dr Anja Winter
and should include a CV and a personal statement.

Studentship available from September 2019

Web link to any further information
School of Life Sciences Research -

To apply please go to:
Please quote FNS GS 2019-15 on your application.

Keele University values diversity, and is committed to ensuring equality of opportunity. In support of these commitments, Keele University particularly welcomes applications from women and from individuals of black and ethnic minority backgrounds for this post. The School of Life Sciences and Keele University have both been awarded Athena Swan awards and Keele University is a member of the Disability Confident scheme. More information is available on these web pages:

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded PhD position.

We accept applications from any nationals. MSc in biochemical/ biophysical/ chemical /natural sciences - minimum degree Masters 2i classification or equivalent. An interest in both laboratory and computational work (protein production and biophysical techniques) is essential - full training will be provided.

Related Subjects

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