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PhD programme in Integrated One Health Solutions in Edinburgh and Leiden - How does post-translational modification and intracellular localisation of antiviral IFITM proteins regulate their activity and their ability to act as barrier to zoonotic virus transmission?

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, November 28, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

• Background
A new PhD training partnership has been set up between the Universities of Edinburgh and Leiden in One Health Integrated Solutions.
The programme will be hosted by the Centre for Inflammation Research in partnership with Edinburgh Infectious Diseases and the Roslin Institute, and offers six PhD studentships fully funded for four years focused on Integrated One Health Solutions. These will cover stipend , tuition fee and travel funds.
The aim is to foster collaboration and to build on existing synergies in the identified themes of this call. Our universities have a long record of collaborative research and teaching, in particular in the fields of medicine and infectious diseases.
We anticipate that each University will fund three studentships to commence in the autumn of 2019 or over the next 12 months in areas where significant joint interest and expertise were identified.
It is envisaged that students will be registered for their degree at one or other host institution and co-supervised with at least one co-supervisor coming from the second instiution.
Projects will involve at least one supervisor from each organisation and it is anticipated that research exchanges between Leiden and Edinburgh will occur during the projects with the expectation that students will spend time in each institution, with a minimum of 12 months in the second host institution.
Information about investigators from Leiden and Edinburgh with interests aligned with ‘One Health’ is given below.
Students can apply for projects in Edinburgh or Leiden and should identify their first choice project plus two other projects they would consider undertaking from the list of projects available – see link to other projects below.
The selection process will involve an interview with members from both institutions.

• About the Project
Supervisors: Dr Richard Sloan (Edinburgh) and Dr Marjolein Kikkert (Leiden)

How does post-translational modification and intracellular localisation of antiviral IFITM proteins regulate their activity and their ability to act as barrier to zoonotic virus transmission?

Project: Interferon Induced Transmembrane Proteins (IFITMs) are host innate immune proteins that inhibit cell entry of a wide range of viruses of global importance including influenza A virus, HIV, dengue virus, Ebola virus, SARS-coronavirus (CoV), MERS-CoV, chikungunya virus and Zika virus[1]. The ability of IFITMs to inhibit viruses depends on their cellular localisation and post-translational modification.
The aim of this project is to show how genetic variation in IFITM alleles from a panel of species results in variation in their post-translational modification and antiviral efficacy, thus exerting a barrier to cross species virus transmission. It will use range of molecular and cellular approaches to define this in the context of viral infection for a number of emerging viruses. The project will also include confocal imaging, flow cytometery working in a biocontainment safety level 3 (BSL3) lab, and live animal (mouse) infection work, the latter with a particular emphasis on coronavirus infection. The project entails 3 years research at Edinburgh University, and with the fourth and final year based in Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Complete list of available projects:

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will be awarded a 4 year studentship, which includes stipend and tuition fees and is open to students from any country in the world. Funding covers contributions towards travel, up to 12 months living expenses at the second centre and research costs.

Applicants should hold at least an upper second-class degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline, e.g. immunology, microbiology, biology or fields related to the specific project.

Applicants should submit the following documents to :

(i) Personal statement about research interests and reasons for applying (200 words)
(ii) CV
(iii) ranking choice of top 3 projects


The studentship will be awarded competitively. Applicants should also arrange for two academic referees to submit letters of reference by email to [email protected] before the deadline.

All documents should be submitted no later than 5pm GMT on 28 November 2019
Short-listed candidates will be notified by email.
Informal enquiries can be sent via email to Dr Richard Sloan [email protected]

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