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Understanding coronavirus interactions with host RNA regulation pathways

   School of Biosciences and Medicine

   Friday, November 18, 2022  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This is a fully funded 3.5 year PhD opportunity to investigate the biology of coronaviruses including SARS-CoV-2. During infection viruses commandeer host cell gene expression machinery to facilitate viral protein production. Understanding precisely how they depend on and manipulate such pathways can reveal new opportunities for therapeutic interventions. Furthermore, mechanisms viruses use to influence host processes can reveal previously unanticipated facets of cell biology.

We are interested in how coronaviruses interact with host processes that regulate mRNA modification, decay and translation. This project will build on previous work that identified host factors that regulate m6A methylation of RNA as important for coronavirus infection. The project goal will be to understand how this and additional host RNA regulatory pathways regulate virus replication, deciphering the importance of viral gene expression regulation and host anti-viral immune responses. Comparison of SARS-CoV-2 with less pathogenic common cold-causing coronaviruses will identify aspects that are universal to coronavirus biology or associated with pathogenesis.

To execute this research, the successful applicant will make use of a wide range of techniques in cell biology, molecular biology, immunology and virology, as well as being trained in high containment working.

Experience in virology will be an advantage, however any motivated individuals with an interest in RNA regulation and the molecular biology of virus infection are encouraged to apply.

Supervisor: Dr.Hannah Burgess

Entry requirements 

Open to UK candidates starting in January 2023.

You will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for our Biosciences and Medicine PhD programme.

Applicants are expected to have a good honours degree (first or upper second) or a masters degree in an appropriate discipline.

IELTS minimum 6.5 overall with 6.0 in Writing, or equivalent.

How to apply 

Applications should be submitted via the Biosciences and Medicine PhD programme  page.Please clearly state the studentship title and supervisor on your application. Once you have completed and submitted your application, please send an email to Dr Hannah Burgess confirming you have applied.In place of a research proposal you should upload a document stating the title of the project that you wish to apply for and the name of the relevant supervisor.

Funding Notes

UKRI standard stipend of £17,668 PA and fees (home student only) will be covered. Stipend will increase annually in line with UKRI increments.


1. Burgess HM, Depledge DP, Thompson L, et al. Targeting the m6A RNA modification pathway blocks SARS-CoV-2 and HCoV-OC43 replication. Genes Dev. 2021;35(13-14):1005-1019. doi:10.1101/gad.348320.121
2. Burgess HM, Vink EI, Mohr I. Minding the message: tactics controlling RNA decay, modification, and translation in virus-infected cells. Genes Dev. 2022 Feb 1;36(3- 4):108-132. doi: 10.1101/gad.349276.121. PMID: 35193946; PMCID: PMC8887129.

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