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MRC Precision Medicine DTP: Proteome-level diversity in RNA viruses

Project Description

Dr Edward Hutchison
Dr Richard Burchmore

PhD project summary:
RNA viruses are major threats to human and animal health and account for the majority of emerging infectious diseases. This is in large part due to the highly error-prone replication of RNA virus genomes, which results in rapid evolution. These high mutation rates should also affect viral gene transcription. However, the diversity of protein products that result, and how these could affect infection and immunity, is unclear.

This project will consider influenza viruses, a genus which includes both endemic and emerging threats to human health. Novel data analysis tools will be developed to identify signatures of mutation and variant post-translational modification in viral proteins, using mass spectra collected from purified viruses by the Hutchinson group. Maps of protein-level diversity will be compared to next-generation sequencing of the viral genome and transcriptome, in order to map of sites in viral proteins which can tolerate variation and sites which select against it.

The project will provide the first indication of how the high levels of mutation in an RNA virus genome actually relate to protein polymorphisms. By mapping sites of protein conservation and plasticity it will expand our understanding of targets for the immune response, including by ‘universal’ vaccines, and provide a rational basis for viral protein engineering.

This MRC programme is joint between the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. You will be registered at the host institution of the primary supervisor detailed in your project selection.

All applications should be made via the University of Edinburgh, irrespective of project location:

Please note, you must apply to one of the projects and you should contact the primary supervisor prior to making your application. Additional information on the application process is available from the links below.

For more information about Precision Medicine visit:

Main programme page:

Funding Notes

Start: September 2019

Qualifications criteria: Applicants applying for a MRC DTP in Precision Medicine studentship must have obtained, or will soon obtain, a first or upper-second class UK honours degree or equivalent non-UK qualifications, in an appropriate science/technology area.

Residence criteria: The MRC DTP in Precision Medicine grant provides tuition fees and stipend of at least £14,777 (RCUK rate 2018/19) for UK and EU nationals that meet all required eligibility criteria.

Full eligibility details are available: View Website

Enquiries regarding programme:

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