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Identifying pro-viral cellular proteins in chicken cells that can be exploited to better control avian endemic viruses

Project Description

Virus infections are a major threat to the productivity of the poultry industry, and there is considerable investment into better controlling them. Engineering chickens that are resistant to infection is one such strategy that is gaining traction due to the development of cutting edge CRISPR/cas9 systems that allow host genes essential for virus replication to be knocked out or modified, such that the virus cannot make use of them.

The successful applicant will conduct cell-culture based experiments and, with guidance, develop a CRISPR/Cas9 screen and use the screen to identify genes that are essential for the in vitro replication of two viruses that are endemic to poultry in the UK, infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) and infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV). The successful applicant will then explore how these gene products interact with virus proteins. The data generated during this project could be exploited in the future to engineer a chicken that is resistant to multiple viruses.

The student will be based primarily at The Pirbright Institute and registered with the University of Edinburgh. The student will visit the university to meet with their supervisors and undertake training or complete specific project tasks as required.

TO APPLY: Full details of how to apply can be found on our website - click Visit Website.
For enquiries regarding the application process please email Admissions Enquiries - click Email Now.
For informal enquiries regarding this project please email the project supervisors noted above.

Funding Notes

This is a fully funded studentship open to science graduates with, or who anticipate obtaining, at least 2.1 or equivalent in relevant biological subject in undergraduate degree, or a Masters degree - subject to university regulations. Open to UK students and eligible EU students who qualify for home-rated fees - see Residential Eligibility Guidelines on website for details. Eligible students will receive minimum annual stipend of £15,009 plus cost of living top-up of £2,200; university registration fees will be paid. Students without English as first language must provide evidence of IELTS score of 7.0, no less than 6.5 in subsections.


Sid & Schusser, Frontiers in Genetics, 2018. Applications of gene editing in chickens: A new era is on the horizon. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fgene.2018.00456/full

Cook et al., Avian Pathology, 2012. The long view: 40 years of infectious bronchitis research. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03079457.2012.680432

Alkie & Ratuenschlein, Vet Med (Auckl), 2016. Infectious bursal disease virus in poultry: current status and future prospects. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6055793/

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