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D.Phil position at Oxford: Pirbright Institute with Horizon Discovery

Oxford D.Phil position: CASE studentship at Pirbright Institute with Horizon Discovery

Start date: October 2017

Contract : Contract - Full Time

Remuneration/ Pay rate: £17003 studentship stipend

Location: Guildford

Details:Transcriptional Analysis of chIFITM knockout technology for increased vaccine yields.

Dr Mark Fife, Dr Angela Steyn, The Pirbright Institute
Prof. Adrian Smith, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford
Dr. Jon Moore, Horizon Discovery Ltd

Contact details: Tel: +44 (0)1483 232441

Avian viruses create major challenges to poultry health through loss of productivity and mortality & have concomitant effects on the global poultry industry through a reduction in the output of poultry meat & eggs. Developing effective & affordable vaccines against these viral diseases will help to increase food security worldwide & alleviate poverty in developing countries.

Type I interferons protect cells from virus infection through the induction of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs). Among these are the anti-viral genes, the IFITMs (interferon-inducible transmembrane). This Studentship will focus on the Transcriptional Analysis of CRISPR/Cas9 chIFITM gene knock-outs in commercially relevant and lab-adapted avian cell lines. These will undergo gene knockout targeting each chIFITM 1, 2, 3 & 5, individually, & to delete the entire locus. To assess the consequence of the chIFITM knock-out on possible perturbations to downstream pathways, we will perform global transcriptome analysis in wildtype & the respective K/O cell lines, with and without infection. This will allow us to detect significant changes in global gene expression in each chIFITM knock-out. Genes displaying statistically significant differential expression between the different biological groups analysed, will be subjected to gene ontology analysis to identify biological functions of each gene. This analysis will also provide insights into pathways that may be affected as a direct result of the gene edits. This project will allow us to ultimately investigate the changes in the gene expression in cells lacking IFITM genes when infected with avian viruses. Exploiting Transcriptional Analysis of CRISPR/Cas9 chIFITM knock-outs, we aim to prove the hypothesis that reduced/ablation of chIFITM gene expression, will result in a significant increase in viral replication and augment vaccine viral titre.

The D Phil student will join the Genetics and Genomics Group and be supervised by Mark Fife and Angela Steyn at The Pirbright Institute. This project is supported through the Oxford Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership and BBSRC Industrial CASE (iCASE) studentship programme. The student will join a cohort enrolled in the DTP’s interdisciplinary training programme & will be able to take full advantage of the training & networking opportunities available through the DTP. For further details please visit

Position is open to biological science graduates with at least a 2.1 or equivalent, or a Masters degree (subject to university regulations). Other first degrees, e.g. veterinary science, will be considered. You should be looking for a challenging, interdisciplinary research training environment and have an active interest in the control of infectious diseases. Students must also provide evidence that they meet the English language requirement, e.g. with an IELTS score of 7.0 and no less than 6.5 in any of the subsections.

Project funded for 4 years by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. BBSRC eligibility criteria apply ( EU nationals who do not meet BBSRC residence criteria are encouraged to contact the programme administrator to check eligibility for BBSRC funding before submitting a formal application.

Successful students will receive a stipend of £17,003 per year, including the contribution of the industrial partner, which will also cover expenses for the 3 months of the project that will be performed at Horizon Discovery in Cambridge.

How to apply

Please contact Mark Fife or Jon Moore asap to discuss. We will advise on the application which needs to be made to Oxford University.






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