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Pig stem cell-derived macrophages as a model for studying ASFV and PRRSV infection in pigs

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  • Full or part time
    Dr T Burdon
    Dr P Beard
    Dr C Burkard
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The spread of infectious diseases, such as African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) and Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (PRRSV), is a serious threat to pig farming worldwide. ASF causes very high mortality in domestic pigs and some wild pig species. PRRS mainly causes morbidity and mortality in young piglets and abortions in pregnant sows and promotes secondary infections, raising the need for antimicrobial interventions. Vaccine strategies are unavailable for ASFV and have proven infeffective in controlling PRRSV so far. ASF-related mass cullings and the morbidity and mortality of PRRS have major animal welfare and economic impacts.
The primary cellular target for ASFV and PRRSV is the pig macrophage. We have developed a new stem cell-based platform for studying the interaction between these viruses and pig macrophages.

The overall objective of this project is to use genetic modification of of pig stem cells to differentiate them into macrophages and study the host-pathogen interaction of PRRSV and ASFV. This work will involve a) the optimisation and characterisation of lentivirus-delivered genome editing in pig stem cells and differentiation into macrophages; b) the characterisation of infection of ASFV and PRRSV in stem-cell derived macrophages; and c) the development of genome wide genome editing screens to identify host factors involved in the replication cycle of these viruses.

This 3.5-year studentship will be provide excellent training in a variety of fields of biology, including cell biology (including stem cell and primary cells), virology, biochemistry and molecular biology, and working at BSL-3 and SAPO-4 level. Within the project the student will work mainly at the Roslin Institute to conduct experimental work on pig stem cells and PRRSV virus with a placement at the Pirbright Institute to perform ASFV experiments. The successful candidate will learn and apply a wide variety of techniques and transferable skills.

Funding Notes

Candidates should have or expect to have a minimum of an appropriate upper 2nd class degree. To qualify for full funding students must be UK or EU citizens who have been resident in the UK for 3 years prior to commencement.

Applications including a statement of interest and full CV with names and addresses (including email addresses) of two academic referees, should be emailed to [Email Address Removed]

When applying please state clearly the title of the studentship and the supervisor/s in your covering letter.

Funding: This project is eligible for a University of Edinburgh 3.5 year PhD studentship.


Lunney, J.K., Fang, Y., Ladinig, A., Chen, N., Li, Y., Rowland, B., and Renukaradhya, G.J. (2016). Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (PRRSV): Pathogenesis and Interaction with the Immune System. Annu. Rev. Anim. Biosci. 4, 129–154.
Sánchez-Cordón, P.J., Montoya, M., Reis, A.L., and Dixon, L.K. (2018). African swine fever: A re-emerging viral disease threatening the global pig industry. Vet. J. 233, 41–48.

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