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Postgraduate studentships

The Pirbright Institute has 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 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.

Studentship Funding Eligibility:

For further information on funding eligibility please refer to UKRI Full Eligibility Criteria (Annex One)

Ref Number Closing Date PhD Studentship Supervisors Project Details
N/A Open - one week's notice will be given before closing  Assessing the functionality of avian BST2 as a viral restriction factor Dr Holly Shelton, Dr Khalid Zakaria (The Pirbright Institute), Professor Adrian Smith (University of Oxford), Dr Mark Fife (Aviagen) 

Cellular restriction factors act as a first line of defense for hosts against invading viruses. Restriction factors target critical steps of the viral replication cycle to prevent infection and/ or dissemination. A well characterised human restriction factor is the cellular protein bone marrow stromal antigen 2 (BST2) (also known as Tetherin or cluster of differentiation 317 (CD317)), which is known to restrict a panel of enveloped viruses by literally tethering budding virions at the plasma membrane to the cell surface preventing virion release. The non-specific interaction of BST2 with the virion membrane enables this restriction factor to inhibit a diverse set of enveloped viral families.

Recently avian orthologs of BST2 have been identified in turkeys and chickens, these have a low sequence identity to the mammalian BST2 proteins but do retain the type 2 integral membrane topology thought to be important for the mechanism of viral restriction. In other bird species deletions in the genetic loci where BST2 should be located suggests a complete loss of this restriction factor from the genome. The BST2 ortholog in the chicken genome (cBST2) has been shown to restrict the avian retrovirus, Avian sarcoma leukosis virus (ASLV) in avian cells at the late phase of the replication cycle suggestive of inhibition at the release stage. In addition, over expression of the cBST2 in human cells restricted the replication of HIV virus like particles suggesting that the cBST functions in a similar manner to human BST2 with regards to restriction of retroviruses.

Full details and how to apply.  Applications for this PhD studentship must be made via the University of Oxford

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

Partner Organisation/s Project Title Applications

How to apply:

See 'how to apply' page for details.

General enquiries can be emailed to

Studentships provide for tuition fees and stipend depending on eligibility (see project advert for details).


UK Posgraduate Doctoral Loans:

A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan (of up to £25,700) can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course, such as a PhD.  Students in receipt of Research Council funding are not eligible.  Details can be found here.

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