Enhancing DNA sensing responses in poxvirus vaccine vectors

A 3-year fully-funded PhD studentship is offered to study how poxviruses evade innate immune responses and to use this knowledge in the development of more immunogenic vaccines.

Start date

1 October 2020


3 years

Application deadline

Funding source

This PhD studentship is sponsored by The Lorna & Yuti Chernajovsky Biomedical Research Foundation.

Funding information

UKRI-aligned stipend of ~£15,000 pa, approved University of Surrey fees and a research budget


A 3-year fully-funded PhD studentship is offered to study how poxviruses evade innate immune responses and to use this knowledge in the development of more immunogenic vaccines. Poxvirus hold enormous potential as vaccine vectors. Vaccinia virus (the prototypic and best studied poxvirus) served as vaccine against smallpox, so far the only human disease that has been eradicated. In addition, several animal poxvirus species as well as vaccinia virus are currently being studied as vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer. Poxviruses are large dsDNA viruses that replicate exclusively in the cell cytosol and are therefore susceptible to host cytosolic DNA sensing responses. Recent work from the laboratory has characterised a novel immune evasion strategy employed by poxviruses consisting in the degradation of the second DNA sensing messenger cGAMP, and the enormous impact of poxvirus cGAMP nucleases on virus virulence. The proposed PhD project will build upon these exciting data to provide novel strategies to enhance DNA sensing responses in poxvirus vaccine vectors.

This is a multidisciplinary project involving molecular and cell biology, inflammation and innate immunity, genetics and virology. The candidate will experience a wide range of state-of-the-art techniques currently ongoing in our laboratory including cloning, ELISA, qPCR, CRISPR/Cas9 editing, protein expression and production, proteomics, signal transduction, microscopy and flow cytometry amongst others. For a flavour of what we do, see reference papers PMID 29491158, 30258003, 31941397 as well our laboratory website.

Related links

School of Biosciences and Medicine

The proposed work will be carried out in the laboratory of Dr Carlos Maluquer de Motes in the Department of Microbial Sciences at the University of Surrey (Surrey County, south west of London). The lab is mostly funded by UK Research Councils and you will be part of an expanding cohort of researchers exploring the interplay between viruses, the ubiquitin system, nucleic acid sensing and the host innate immune response. The laboratory belongs to the School of Biosciences and Medicine, which provides an interdisciplinary research environment, facilitating access to relevant resources and centrally supported equipment. The laboratory space is shared with one other virology group and has been adapted to work under current UK Government guidelines for COVID-19. For more information see the School of Biosciences and Medicine page as well as our laboratory website.

Eligibility criteria

Candidates must hold a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree from the UK (or equivalent qualification from EU Institutions) in a relevant subject area.

UK or EU students are eligible.

English language requirements: An IELTS Academic of 6.5 or above with 6 in each individual category (or equivalent qualification from other agencies) is required.

How to apply

Informal enquiries should be sent to Dr Carlos Maluquer de Motes (c.maluquerdemotes@surrey.ac.uk).

Applications should be submitted via the Biosciences and Medicine PhD course page . In your application, please mention this studentship to be considered. Instead of a project proposal, upload a cover letter indicating why you have applied and what you hope to achieve by undertaking this PhD. Your CV should include your course modules and marks (including predicted grade if you are in your final year).

Application deadline: Friday July 12th 2020. Shortlisted candidates will be contacted to arrange an interview via Zoom (expected w/c July 20th).

Application deadline

Contact details

Carlos Maluquer de Motes
02 AW 01
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 683144
E-mail: c.maluquerdemotes@surrey.ac.uk

Studentships at Surrey

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