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Studentships 2017

The Pirbright Institute has recently formed partnerships with a number of different universities and companies in the UK to offer a selection of exciting studentships studying viral infections of animals.

These new partnerships offer students an exceptional opportunity to obtain a broad view of infectious disease research in a rich, stimulating and unique research environment. Students will have the opportunity to work with the different partners involved in their project, thereby giving them access to novel ways of tackling the problems of livestock diseases through interdisciplinary, cross-institutional approaches. This will be coupled to core skills training at the student’s host institutions, providing flexible training options and experiences that will support a wide range of career choices.

Applications are therefore invited for these studentships as detailed in the tables below.


Ref number Project title Supervisors Abstract

2017 22 MM/YJ - Surrey

Closing date: 27.10.17

Development of semi-supervised ensemble learning models for serotype O and A FMDV vaccine strain selection using heterogeneous data Dr Mana Mahapatra, Prof Yaochu Jin The current method of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine strain selection is based on the serological tests that determine the antigenic relationships (r1 value) of circulating viruses with vaccine strains using antisera raised in bovines. This method is time consuming, expensive and the selected vaccines may not be able to provide broad-spectrum protection against emerging antigenically novel strains. In addition, the in-vivo cross-protection tests do not always agree with the in-vitro serological test results.  Read more

2017 13 JS Edinburgh/FLI

Closing date: 27.10.17

Functional characterisation of foot-and-mouth virus replication in mammalian cell lines Dr Julian Seago, Prof Jurgen Haas, Dr Michael Eschbaumer, Prof Martin Beer Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) is a highly infectious viral pathogen that causes foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in cloven-hoofed animals. FMD has a major economic impact globally and is a considerable threat to food security. FMDV is a non-enveloped, single-stranded positive-sense RNA virus in the genus Aphthovirus of the family Picornaviridae. FMDV has a small genome and therefore relies on multifunctional viral proteins and cellular factors to replicate. In vitro studies have shown that a range of mammalian cell lines from different species are permissible to FMDV infection and replication. However, many of the interactions between host and viral proteins that facilitate this replication remain unidentified. Similarly, the antiviral responses triggered following infection of these cell lines, and their effects on viral replication, is yet to be determined.  Read more

2017 15 PB Edinburgh/FLI

Closing date: 27.10.17

Virulence factors of lumpy skin disease virus Dr Pip Beard, Prof Jayne HopeDr Bernd Hoffman, Prof Martin Beer Lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV) causes a classic systemic poxviral disease in cattle known as lumpy skin disease (LSD).  It is a high consequence pathogen which spreads quickly from herd to herd and causes severe disease in affected cattle. LSD has traditionally occurred in Africa, however recently spread through the Middle East and into southeastern Europe. It is considered a rapidly emerging threat to the rest of Europe and Asia and better control measures are needed to halt its spread.  Read more

2017 09 JH/SK Southampton

Closing date: 27.10.17

Natural resistance to viral diseases in cattle

Prof John Hammond, Professor Salim Khakoo

This project aims to identify which MHC class I ligands bind ruminant NK cell receptors to initiate and control immune responses, and how the extensive variation between the genes encoding these molecules impacts binding and function. To accomplish this, this project adapts approaches that have recently been successfully adopted to both discover and investigate interacting receptor/ligand pairs in human populations. Read more
2017 01 LA/Self-Funded Self-Funded PhD Studentship Prof Luke Alphey

Professor Alphey’s research group aims to develop novel genetic tools for the introgression of genetic (transgenic) traits into wild populations of pest insects [see Alphey (2014) Ann Rev Entomol 59:205-224 for overview of such genetic control in the context of mosquitoes]. This has potential applications in public health (e.g. mosquitoes), agriculture and conservation biology, for example. Projects are potentially available in each of these areas. Read more

2017 02 MI/Self-Funded Self-Funded PhD Studentship -  Improving Avian Influenza Vaccines Dr Munir Iqbal Improving Avian Influenza Vaccines:  Avian influenza viruses continue to be responsible for severe economic losses in poultry production in the many parts of the world and remain a credible threat to food security and public health. The options to reduce their impact on poultry are complex and require highly effective vaccines that produce strong immunity and full protection against disease, together with a reduction in shedding of infectious virus from infected birds resulting in a break in the endemic prevalence of these viruses in affected regions. Read more.
Ref number Project title Supervisors Abstract


The Pirbright Institute also has the following studentships which should be applied for through our partner organisations.

Further information

The studentship provides for tuition fees and stipend depending on eligibility (see full project details accessible through the tables above).

How to apply

See the 'how to apply' section for further information.

General enquiries can be emailed to

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