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Studentships 2019

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.

Applications are therefore invited for these studentships as detailed below.

UK PhD Loans:

Doctoral loans are now available.  A doctoral loan allows you to borrow up to £25,000 to study a UK PhD in any subject in 2018-19.  Students in receipt of Research Council funding are not eligible.  For full details please visit:

Residential Guidelines for Research Council Studentships:

For further information on residence eligibility for studentship funding please refer to Residential Guidelines for Research Council Studentships


Ref number Project title Supervisors Abstract
2019-16 DK/DH Forecasting the next panzootic foot-and-mouth disease lineage: informing virus fitness from in vitro studies and genomic data Dr Don King (The Pirbright Institute), Dr Dan Horton (University of Surrey), Dr Andrew Shaw, Dr Lidia Lasecka, Dr Toby Tuthill (The Pirbright Institute)

We seek a highly motivated student with the enthusiasm and drive to pursue an engaging question in the field of virus emergence and epidemiology.  Foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV) causes a highly contagious disease of cloven hooved livestock with potentially devastating economic consequences. Whilst the different ‘serotypes’ of FMDV are highly variable, only a relatively small number of viral lineages successfully spread to have distributions covering multiple continents (attaining ‘panzootic’ status). This project aims to address the question of what drives a FMDV strain to become panzootic and supplant the existing strain(s). The ability to forecast whether a novel lineage is likely to become panzootic would profoundly improve our ability to prepare for and respond to outbreaks where multiple strains are circulating. Full details and how to apply

2019-18 YY/FG

PhD Studentship: Host factors determining latency and reactivation of MDV-1 virus

Closing date: 17.05.19

Dr Yongxiu Yao (The Pirbright Institute), Dr Finn Grey (The Roslin Institute), Prof Venugopal Nair OBE (The Pirbright Institute)

Herpesviruses are large dsDNA viruses that cause widespread, lifelong latent infections in different hosts, through multiple virus-host interactions to create a delicate balance between the virus and the host. CRISPR/Cas9-based gene editing is emerging as a powerful tool to investigate the precise determinants of latency in a number of herpesvirus infections. Marek’s disease virus (MDV-1) is a lymphotropic α-herpesvirus associated with latent infections and malignant CD4+ T-cell lymphomas in chicken. The rapid onset of tumours in Marek’s disease (MD) makes it an ideal virus-induced lymphoma model in its natural host. MDV-1 has a two-phase life cycle, consisting of a lytic and a latent phase, the latter closely associated with the oncogenesis of the virus, yet the underlying molecular mechanisms of cell transformation remain unclear. Several viral genes such as Meq, vTR, vIL-8 and MDV1-miR-M4-5p, have been directly implicated in the oncogenic process. Full details and how to apply


PhD Studentship: New bioinformatics and statistical methods for the analysis and visualisation of FMDV sequences

Closing date: 17.05.19

Dr Paolo Ribeca (The Pirbright Institute), Dr Joaquin Prada (University of Surrey), Dr Dan Horton (University of Surrey), Yasaman Kalantar-Motamedi (The Pirbright Institute)

This project presents a unique and truly exciting opportunity to work in an exemplary inter-disciplinary team to develop new analytical methods for viral research, while making them accessible to scientists with little computational background.

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a scourge of hooved livestock, with major economic impact particularly on low income countries in Asia and Africa. Informed decisions about controlling FMD outbreaks can only be made by exploiting the relation between the strain responsible for the outbreak and known viral strains. The FMD World Reference Laboratory at The Pirbright Institute (TPI) has sequenced an extensive catalogue of representative viruses, sampling infected animals and vaccine strains across a broad geographic and temporal range. However, given the complex population structure and molecular biology of FMDV, sophisticated data analysis methods are necessary to extract and provide reliable information on new viral strains. Full details and how to apply

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

Partner Organisation/s Project Title Applications

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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