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Pre-Symptomatic Markers of Virus Infection and Severity

   Faculty of Health & Medical Sciences

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  Dr C Maluquer de Motes  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Guildford United Kingdom Biochemistry Bioinformatics Cell Biology Genetics Immunology Microbiology Molecular Biology Virology

About the Project

The outcome of virus infection varies between hosts, from asymptomatic infection to lethality, as seen currently with SARS-CoV-2. Often there is no indication of eventual outcome at onset of symptoms. The paradigm of a virus that has lost the ability to cause disease (without compromising immunogenicity) is live attenuated vaccines (LAV). LAV trigger an immune response that is not followed by signs of illness, therefore similar to what asymptomatic carriers may show. This project will study the early immune response to virus infection and determine the transcriptomic signatures characterising the different phases of disease using attenuated and virulent viruses. We will use state-of-the-art single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) during vaccinia virus infection, a well-established model that allows for carefully-controlled comparison of virulent (at lethal and sublethal doses) and avirulent strains. The rich dataset obtained by scRNAseq will be validated and studied in detail using multiple immunological and virological assays. The results will uncover signatures predictive of disease severity and will inform the design of live attenuated viral vaccines.

Applications are invited for a 3.5-year PhD studentship within the molecular virology group led by Dr Carlos Maluquer de Motes at the University of Surrey (United Kingdom). In recent years, the group has identified cellular mechanisms that modulate immune responses and how these are modulated by ubiquitin ligases as well as viruses. For a flavour of what we do, please see references below. We are now seeking to recruit a motivated and inquisitive individual interested in the interface between immunity and viruses and with experience on (or willing to learn) computational transcriptomics and state-of-the-art molecular biology techniques.

The project will be performed in the Maluquer Lab at the University of Surrey ( in close collaboration with Dr David Ulaeto at Dstl, where the candidate will be expected to spend some time.

A 3.5-year fully funded studentship includes stipend, full fees and a research grant starting in October 2022. To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be a UK national. Applicants must also clear administrative checks from the sponsor.

More information on the School of Biosciences and Medicine and Dstl.

Entry requirements

A First or Upper Second-Class Honours degree from the UK (or equivalent qualification from international Institutions) or Masters degree in a relevant subject area.

English language requirements: An IELTS Academic of 6.5 or above with 6 in each individual category (or equivalent qualification from other agencies).

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the online application portal for Biosciences and Medicine PhDs.

This project is part of the Pathogens and Host Defenses Doctoral Training Partnership and you can express interest in one or two of the projects available via this scheme. When completing your application, in place of a research proposal, please provide a 1-page (maximum) document containing the project title(s) and supervisor name(s) of the project or two projects you have selected, together with an explanation of your motivations for wanting to study for a PhD and your reasons for selecting the project(s) you have chosen.

For those interested in the project described above, we strongly encourage informal enquiries to be sent to Dr Carlos Maluquer de Motes ([Email Address Removed]).


Maluquer de Motes, C (2021) PLOS Pathogens, 17:e1009372. PMID 33735254.
Hernaez et al. (2020) Science Advances, 6:eabb4565. PMID 32948585.
Georgana et al. (2020) Frontiers in Immunology, 10:3121. PMID 32038638.
Gutierrez-Merino et al. (2020) Gut Microbes, 11:711. PMID 31941397.
Odon et al. (2018) Journal of Virology, 92:e01374-18. PMID 30258003.
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