Blocking entry of herpes simplex virus (HSV) in to human skin

A fully funded 3-year studentship from the British Skin Foundation has become available in the laboratory of Professor Gill Elliott in the Section of Virology, beginning October 2018. The aim of the project is to develop antiviral compounds that specifically block herpes simplex virus (HSV) entry in to human skin cells.

3 years
Application deadline
Funding source
British Skin Foundation
Funding information

This studentship is fully-funded, includes a stipend of £14,990 (and a year by year uplift), and is only open to UK students and eligible EU students who qualify for home-rated fees.


HSV infects 70% of the human population. It infects the skin or mucosa and establishes life-long latent infection in the nervous system, with reactivated infection commonly causing frequent episodes of facial cold sores or genital herpes. Reactivated HSV can also have serious outcomes, with rare systemic infections resulting in brain damage or death. There is no HSV vaccine, and although antiviral drugs exist they are not universally successful and resistance is growing.

This studentship is aimed at finding new compounds that directly block HSV entry in to human skin cells (keratinocytes). Using a tractable skin cell system, the student will investigate the candidate HSV receptor molecule and its role in HSV entry in to these cells, and develop strategies that inhibit entry.  They will be trained in a range of state-of-the art experimental approaches, including CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing of skin cells, confocal microscopy, and the screening of peptide libraries, together with molecular biology, tissue culture and virological techniques. The goal of this project is to use our molecular understanding of HSV entry in a tissue culture model of skin to develop effective new antiviral treatment.

The successful applicant will join a research group that is currently funded by the Medical Research Council and Worldwide Cancer Research to investigate HSV morphogenesis, cell-to-cell transmission and translational control. Prof Gill Elliott has worked in the field of the cell biology of HSV infection for over 20 years, and her group has made major contributions to current understanding of HSV morphogenesis and trafficking, including developing the first fluorescently tagged viruses for live cell imaging of virus infection.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants should hold or expect to obtain at least a high 2.1 undergraduate degree or a masters degree in a relevant subject.

Previous laboratory experience in molecular biology and/or tissue culture is desirable.

How to apply

Prior to submitting their applications, candidates are requested to contact Prof Gill Elliott to discuss the application process.

Applications can be made through our PhD Biosciences and Medicine and MD Biosciences and Medicine course pages. In your application you must mention this studentship in order to be considered.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 28 March 2018.

Interviews will be held in the week beginning 16 April. Shortlisted applicants will be expected to give a 10 minute presentation.

Contact details

Gill Elliott
04 AW 01
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 686389
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