Pathogens and host defences doctoral training partnership studentships

Start date

1 October 2024


3.5 years

Application deadline

Funding information

Funding is for 3.5 years and includes UKRI-aligned stipend (£18,622 pa for 2023-24), PhD fees and research budget.


This collaboratively-funded doctoral training partnership was developed in 2021 to bridge the gap between veterinary and human infectious diseases research by building a cohort of students in the area of One Health, One Medicine. It partners the University of Surrey, the Pirbright Institute, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and the University of Sussex. Over the first two years we have recruited 17 PhD students who benefit from supervision by two of our partners, a broad training experience, and an array of networking opportunities.

We now have four joint studentships available for October 2024 in any of the following areas:

  • Cross-species regulation of coronavirus infection by m6A RNA methylation
  • Elucidating the basis of E. coli secondary infection associated with avian infectious bronchitis
  • The role of platelets in the pathogenesis of Rift Valley fever
  • In silico, knowledge-based investigation of immune signalling pathways in host defences across species
  • Exploring the potential transmission dynamics of Rift Valley fever virus in livestock and humans in GB
  • Discovering and characterising novel defence systems in pathogenic Serratia spp using microbiology and genomics
  • Detecting horizontal gene transfer and recombination in diverse dsDNA viral genomes and pangenomes
  • Dissecting the host response of RSV infection at the post-transcriptional and post-translational level
  • Assessing the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in CHIKV cellular entry and their therapeutic applications
  • Unveiling the genetic landscape of Capripoxvirus attenuation and host interaction through multi-omics
  • A pangenomic approach to predicting viral epidemic potential using AI
  • Bispecific molecules for targeted delivery of novel antiviral to infected cells
  • Designing an anti-viral drug for Rift Valley Fever
  • Characterisation of receptors and responses to alphaviruses in human microglia
  • Investigating mechanisms of lymphopenia in traumatic haemorrhage and resuscitation
  • Searching for superspreaders using a multi-scale modelling approach
  • Emerging tick-borne viruses: unravelling infection mechanisms in host and tick cells
  • Bioengineered 3D blood-brain barrier (BBB) using cellular/polymer bioinks
  • Projecting operational effectiveness under new and emerging viral threats
  • An in vitro human lung model for studying emerging pathogens of concern
  • Bayesian models of inter-individual variation in host-response to vaccine and antiviral therapy.

The partner institutions: University of Surrey (Guildford), University of Sussex (Brighton), The Pirbright Institute, (Woking), and The Defence Science Technology Laboratory (DSTL) (Porton Down).  

Eligibility criteria

These studentships are open to UK applicants only. DSTL partnered studentships are open only to UK nationals who do not have dual nationality. Applicants should hold or be expected to obtain a good honours degree (first or upper second) or a masters degree in an appropriate discipline.

How to apply

Please complete the application form. Prospective students are asked to select up to four projects from those available and are strongly encouraged to make contact with supervisors before applying. Applications require a CV, the names of two academic referees, and a personal statement outlining why you want to do a PhD, and your reasons for choosing their selected projects. 

To view details of available Doctoral Training Partnership projects and how to apply please visit: Pathogens and Host Defences Doctoral Training Partnership: University of Sussex

Application form

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