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PhD Studentship Opportunity in Enhancing DNA sensing responses in poxvirus vaccine vectors

Faculty of Health & Medical Sciences

About the Project

A 3-year fully-funded PhD studentship is offered to study how poxviruses evade innate immune responses and to use this knowledge in the development of more immunogenic vaccines. Poxvirus hold enormous potential as vaccine vectors. Vaccinia virus (the prototypic and best studied poxvirus) served as vaccine against smallpox, so far the only human disease that has been eradicated. In addition, several animal poxvirus species as well as vaccinia virus are currently being studied as vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer. Poxviruses are large dsDNA viruses that replicate exclusively in the cell cytosol and are therefore susceptible to host cytosolic DNA sensing responses. Recent work from the laboratory has characterised a novel immune evasion strategy employed by poxviruses consisting in the degradation of the second DNA sensing messenger cGAMP, and the enormous impact of poxvirus cGAMP nucleases on virus virulence. The proposed PhD project will build upon these exciting data to provide novel strategies to enhance DNA sensing responses in poxvirus vaccine vectors.

This is a multidisciplinary project involving molecular and cell biology, inflammation and innate immunity, genetics and virology. The candidate will experience a wide range of state-of-the-art techniques currently ongoing in our laboratory including cloning, ELISA, qPCR, CRISPR/Cas9 editing, protein expression and production, proteomics, signal transduction, microscopy and flow cytometry amongst others. For a flavour of what we do, see reference papers PMID 29491158, 30258003, 31941397 as well our laboratory website (www.maluquerlab.org).

This project will be starting in October 2020.

Entry requirements:
A First or Upper Second Class Honours degree from the UK (or equivalent qualification from EU Institutions) in a relevant subject area.
An IELTS Academic of 6.5 or above with 6 in each individual category (or equivalent qualification from other agencies). For more details on English Language requirements see: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/postgraduate/biosciences-and-medicine-phd#entry

How to apply:
Applications should be submitted via the Biosciences and Medicine PhD course page (apply tab): https://www.surrey.ac.uk/postgraduate/biosciences-and-medicine-phd
In your application, please clearly state the studentship title and supervisor to be considered. Instead of a project proposal, upload a cover letter indicating why you have applied and what you hope to achieve by undertaking this PhD. Your CV should include your course modules and marks (including predicted grade if you are in your final year).

Shortlisted candidates will be contacted to arrange an interview via Zoom (expected w/c July 20th).

Funding Notes

UKRI-aligned stipend of ~£15,000 pa, approved University of Surrey fees and a research budget for UK/EU students.

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