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The dynamics of liquid organelle re-modelling in response to virus infection

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

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  Dr J N Barr, Dr Juan Fontana, Dr Anton Calabrese  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Liquid organelles are membrane-less compartments that provide an environment for different cellular processes. As such, they can be hijacked by viruses to enable virus replication. Arenaviruses are simple viruses that express only 4 proteins and form a type of liquid organelle (termed stress granule) during infection. Additionally, they are medically relevant viruses, as some cause haemorrhagic fevers (like Lassa virus). This project aims to understand how liquid organelles are formed, which is an emerging and poorly-understood topic, by studying arenavirus-induced stress granule formation.

To achieve this, the student will first determine the composition of Arenavirus-induced stress granules, comparing it to stress granules from non-infected cells. Then they will establish an in vitro stress-granule system, which will be manipulated by adding viral components (proteins and RNA) and/or by changing the ionic conditions (reflecting physiological changes occurring during infection). Overall, the project will allow an understanding of this essential viral process, providing possible targets for future therapeutics.

The student involved in this project will gain experience in virology, molecular biology and omics approaches (including proteomics), which provide valuable skills for their future careers. The supervisory team provides a nurturing environment and expertise in all these approaches.


You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper-second class honours degree or a MSc degree in a relevant subject.

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Biological Sciences minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 6.0 overall, with no element less than 5.5
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 87 with the listening and reading element no less than 20, writing element no less than 21 and the speaking element no less than 22.

How to apply:

To apply for this project applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable).

To help us identify that you are applying for this studentship please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • When asked for source of funding please make it clear that you are applying for a "White Rose BBSRC DTP Studentship"
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert. You can be considered for up to 3 projects in total.

If you have any further queries regarding this opportunity, please contact [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This opportunity is funded by the White Rose BBSRC DTP and will attract an annual tax-free stipend of £17,668 (based on the 2022/23 rate). The award will also cover academic fees. This opportunity is available to UK and International fee rated applicants. Please note that any expenses related to the relocation of international students to the UK (visa, insurance, NHS fees, flights, etc) would be their responsibility and are not covered by this award.

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