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Research investigations of threats to blood safety from specific pathogens

   Nuffield Department of Medicine

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  Prof Peter Simmonds, Dr Tanya Golubchik, Dr David Bonsall, Dr Heli Harvala  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

New genomics technologies for investigating pathogen emergence and the microbiological safety of blood transfusion and transplant

To apply, you will need to contact [Email Address Removed] in the first instance. He will then provide details of how to apply to the relevant DPhil programme at Oxford.

A fully funded studentship is offered at the University of Oxford a project within the area of virus genomics and new diagnostic detection technologies and their application towards blood and transplant safety and pandemic preparedness. The student will work within a large research unit funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) that is focussed towards harnessing new screening technologies for transfusion transmitted infections by NHS Blood and Transplant services

The Research Unit comprises a large team of academics, clinical laboratory scientists and PhD students in Oxford and in University College London, along with support and administrative staff and resource development. This infrastructure will support a final roster of nine PhD students working in Oxford, UCL, NHSBT and UK Health Security Agency.

The student will work in the following project area:

Research investigations of threats to blood safety from specific pathogens

Surrogate markers for donor transmission risk. While donors are screened for HIV-1 and syphilis (antibodies), a range of other sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhoea, HSV-1, human pegivirus and HAV are also potentially associated with high-risk sexual behaviour. The diagnostic potential of these currently unscreened infections as surrogate markers for exposure and transmission risk will be investigated and used to evaluate the effectiveness of donor selection policy in the UK and elsewhere. 

Emerging infection Preparedness. Blood donor populations represent a valuable sentinel population in which the emergence and possible spread of new pathogens, including monkeypox virus, the divergent hepatitis E virus species C, and arthropod-borne viruses, such as West Nile virus, can be monitored

Training Opportunities offered in the studentships

  • Laboratory: Experience in NGS library construction and Illumina and Nanopore sequencing methodologies; RNA/DNA capture methods including the application of CRISPR-Cas constructs
  • Bioinformatics: Acquisition of expertise in standard and new developed sequence data processing pathways for assembly and analysis of read data
  • Standard HBV diagnostics, sample handling, PCR, serological assays.
  • Next generation sequencing methods and associated bioinformatics analysis of read data.
  • Molecular methods for virus detection and screening
  • Detection methods of T cell immune reactivity to HBV
  • Participation in the clinical investigation of donors with occult HBV and its natural history.
  • Shared working with other PhD/MPhil students in the wider programme investigating a range of other aspects of transfusion-related microbiology
  • Programmes of presentations, seminars and attendance at national and international scientific meeting to present research findings
  • Working within a combined University / NHSBT environment, the latter providing knowledge of how a large scale, healthcare-based service provider works and delivers to patients and the donor community.  
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