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p53 upregulation by non-invasive and non-genotoxic physical stimulation as a preventative strategy against COVID and other viral agents

   School of Science and Engineering

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  Dr P Campbell, Dr J-C Bourdon  No more applications being accepted  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

This is an interdisciplinary collaborative approach involving industry that seeks to develop and optimise a strategy to boost p53 levels in anticipation of, or response to, viral infection as epitomised by the present COVID epidemic. The expertise of the collaborating team covers the essential areas of p53 biology, device engineering, medical safety of instrumentation and technology production.

In particular will use very short burst microwave irradiation within the millisecond range and also short pulse ultrasound be used to stimulate p53 levels. The pre-existing technology to facilitate this approach has been made available with the industrial partnership of Dr William Henry, who is the Chief Scientific Officer with Teknolerge Ltd. Moreover, we have generated pilot data using the instrumentation that has led us to realise that microwaves in this regime [2.4 GHz for pulse lengths in the millisecond range and using milliwatt power ranges generated by the ’Pulsar technology’ ] can enhance activation of p53 in a controllable manner which complements other recent observations of electromagnetic (microwave) control of p53 [1]. Importantly, we have also demonstrated the critical observation that the Pulsar technology developed by Teknolerge Ltd can activate p53 into a therapeutically useful level without itself generating DNA-damage. i.e. the technology appears to be non-invasive and non-gentoxic.

Here it should be noted that the p53 protein, for some time regarded as the ’guardian of the genome’ is pivotal in orchestrating the cellular defence against virus infection by coordinating the immune cell response and by preventing the virus to replicate in infected cells. Viral species usually target and inactivate p53 in order to exercise control of infected cells, subsequently disrupting an effective immune response. The coronavirus COVID19 is no exception. It inactivates p53, thus promoting fast virus replication and lowering the resistance of the immune system. Our strategy to deliberately [pre] activate p53 [in vulnerable patients], or reactively irradiate in those exposed to the virus, using the Pulsar technology may lead to prevention or reduction of [COVID-19] infection without iatrogenic factors, effectively enhancing immunological protection against Coronavirus.

Given suitable confirmation of Pulsar’s antiviral activity we would propose a clinical trial on Pulsar devices. This would involve the wearing of a device (externally) close to the top of the respiratory tract to deliver an immunological boost to these tissues. In the absence of a vaccine and in the uncertainty of drug efficacy, it is believed that any boost to the immune system is a valuable asset.

For informal enquiries about the project, contact Dr Paul Campbell ([Email Address Removed])

For general enquiries about the University of Dundee, contact [Email Address Removed]

Our research community thrives on the diversity of students and staff which helps to make the University of Dundee a UK university of choice for postgraduate research. We welcome applications from all talented individuals and are committed to widening access to those who have the ability and potential to benefit from higher education.


Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first or 2.1 UK honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK in a relevant discipline.

English language requirement: IELTS (Academic) score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 5.5 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s English language requirements are available online:


Step 1: Email Dr Paul Campbell ([Email Address Removed]) to (1) send a copy of your CV and (2) discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).

Step 2: After discussion with Dr Campbell, formal applications can be made via our direct application system:

Apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Physics: Physics : Study : University of Dundee

Please select the study mode (full-time/part-time) and start date agreed with the lead supervisor.

 In the Research Proposal section, please:

-       Enter the lead supervisor’s name in the ‘proposed supervisor’ box

-       Enter the project title listed at the top of this page in the ‘proposed project title’ box

In the ‘personal statement’ section, please outline your suitability for the project selected.

Biological Sciences (4) Engineering (12) Physics (29)

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees, project specific bench fees and living expenses via external sponsorship or self-funding.


[1] F Xing et al. 1800MHz Microwave Induces p53 and p53-Mediated Caspase-3 Activation Leading to Cell Apoptosis In Vitro PLoS One. 2016; 11(9): e0163935.
DNA double strand breaks induced by cavitational mechanical effects of ultrasound in cancer cells
Y Furusawa, Y Fujiwara, P Campbell, QL Zhao, R Ogawa, MA Hassan, Y Tabuchi, I Takasaki,
A Takahashi &,T Kondo
PloS One (2012) 7 (1) e29012 (2012)
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