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BSc and MSc projects

BSc and MSc projects

We have the following Year-In-Industry placements are available.  Placements will commence August 2018 for 12 months.

Students who are currently in their second year of a relevant undergraduate science degree are welcome to apply - please note you can apply for ONE project only.  The placements are unfunded.

If English is not your first language, you will be required to provide evidence of your ability. We require an overall IELTS score of 7.0 with no lower than 7.0 in reading and listening, no lower than 6.5 in speaking and no lower than 6.0 in writing.  Other English language qualifications may be accepted.

To apply please email your CV (no more than two sides of A4) and a covering letter (detailing why you would like to undertake the placement and the knowledge and skills that you can bring to the Institute) to yvonne.walsh@pirbright.ac.ukPlease indicate clearly in your letter the reference number of the project you are applying for
Closing date: 30 April 2018.

Successful candidates will be required to pass a security vetting process before commencing the placement.

Project title Summary

Ref:  01/EB

Using sequence space to manipulate and study the role of nucleocapsid in coronavirus evolution

The gammacoronavirus infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) causes an acute, highly contagious respiratory disease of poultry causing animal welfare issues and severe economic losses to the poultry industry worldwide.  Given their high mutation rates, large population sizes and short generation times, RNA viruses such as IBV evolve rapidly producing swarms of similar, but not identical, progeny virions.  Consequently, current live attenuated IBV vaccines have a high risk of reversion to a virulent phenotype.  The localisation of these viral populations in sequence space generally impacts upon which mutational neighbourhoods are accessible and how these viruses evolve and It has been proposed that certain neighbourhoods will influence the potential of reaching beneficial or disadvantageous mutations that facilitate attenuation.  We intend to assess the effect of shifting the virus in sequence space towards less hospitable regions that are expected to have the greatest impact on viability. The project will utilise reverse genetics to generate and characterise novel viruses, focussing on assessment of genetic stability and viral fitness. Full details

Ref: 02/JK

Developing next-generation systems to enhance recombinant vaccine yields

Viral glycoproteins (vGPs) are one of the main building blocks of viral particles and play an essential role in viral entry. In addition they are often the dominant immunogens and hence the target of various aspects of the host immune response. Accordingly, the expression and purification of high-quantities of viral glycoproteins (vGPs) is a fundamental step in the development and/or production of many recombinant vaccines, e.g. Nipah virus, Ebola, HBV, RSV. In addition, efficient vGP production is also important for a range of other biotechnology applications, e.g. diagnostic tests, lentiviral transduction and structural-studies. Increasing the yield of vGP production can therefore provide key advances, both to translational and basic virology research. The aim of this project is to identify and characterise proteins that are able to enhance or inhibit vGP production, for enhancement of vaccine production. Full details

Ref: 03/CN

African swine fever virus vaccine correlates of protection

Pig farmers are threatened by an epidemic of a lethal haemorrhagic disease of domestic swine and wild boar, which is spreading through Eastern Europe called African swine fever. A viral vectored vaccine against African swine fever has been developed at Pirbright, but further development of this is hindered by a lack of understanding of the mechanisms of immunity and reliable surrogates of protection. The vaccine induces both lymphocytes and antibodies that recognise whole virus, but the relative importance of the response to the individual proteins that make up the vaccine is unclear. In addition we do not know which types of lymphocytes, in particular T-cells, recognise the virus either. Therefore, the laboratory work in the project will consist principally of phenotyping immune cells using flow cytometry and developing ELISAs to define the antibody response. The results from the project will contribute towards refining a novel viral vectored vaccine against African swine fever. Full details

Ref:  04/JK

Discovery and characterisation of constitutive promoters in mosquitoes

Recent technological advances in next generation sequencing have dramatically accelerated acquisition of sequence information from genomes of numerous organisms. To give biological meaning to this deluge of data, location of individual genes and other DNA features needs to be identified. Gene sequences can be detected with considerable precision, especially with support of sequence data from the transcriptomes (expressed portions of the genome). However, identification of the DNA elements that regulate gene expression, such as gene promoters, remains notoriously difficult and unreliable, and requires experimental validation. Promoters with ubiquitous expression are critically important for the analysis of gene function in vivo, to drive knock-down or overexpression of the desired transcripts irrespective of tissue localization. To date, only a couple of ubiquitous promoter sequences have been described in mosquitoes. The proposed work will contribute to filling in this major knowledge gap, by experimental validation of selected candidate promoter sequences from the African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae. Full details
Scientists at the Institute may offer projects for students undertaking relevant taught MSc courses.  The minimum time that we can consider for such research projects is 3 months although 6-12 months is preferential.  Placements are unfunded although we can offer accommodation in our Institute housing at a significantly reduced rate.


The Government is introducing a loan scheme for MSc students from the 2018-19 academic year. Eligibility is based on nationality, residency and age.  Full details can be found on FindaMasters.com 

If you require further information, please contact Dr Lynda Moore, Head of Academic Affairs & Training (studentship@pirbright.ac.uk)

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