Understanding the risk and preparing for arboviruses Tembusu and Wesselsbron incursions in the UK

An exciting joint funded PhD studentship between Surrey University and APHA (Weybridge) to characterise two neglected arboviruses, that are zoonotic and have potential to cause significant livestock and human disease burdens if introduced and established in the UK mosquito population. This is a unique opportunity to undertake fundamental virological studies, in relevant mosquito vectors, alongside state-of-the-art genomic analysis and molecular diagnostic test development. The accumulated data will be utilised to develop an epidemiological risk model which can be used to inform UK policy makers on whether the viruses would establish within the UK mosquito populations.  

Start date

1 January 2024


3.5 years

Application deadline

Funding source

Joint-funded by APHA and University of Surrey

Funding information

Fully funded UKRI standard stipend (£18,622), all fees covered including consumables and training.


This is a joint funded PhD studentship between the Virology department at Animal and Plant Health Agency (Weybridge, Surrey) and the Vet School at Surrey University (Guildford, Surrey). The successful applicant will be based at APHA, immersing themselves within the arbovirology team, while benefitting from the support, expertise, and research culture in the schools of Veterinary Medicine and Bioscience at Surrey. 

This PhD focusses on two neglected arboviruses: Tembusu (TMUV) and Wesselsbron (WSLV), both cause serious diseases in livestock, are zoonotic and have similar transmission cycles to other arboviruses such as West Nile virus which is currently spreading across Europe infecting both horses and people. Currently these viruses have not been detected in Europe, but they have been identified as the next potential threat, as wildlife viruses of veterinary and zoonotic importance, prompting the joint funding of this PhD studentship. During the PhD you will develop new rapid molecular detection tests, and use whole genome sequencing to characterise the viruses, including analysis of adaptation during passage in cells and mosquitoes. You will assess vector competency in a range of native and non-native mosquitoes and determine if vertical transmission is possible and work with modelling experts within Surrey University and APHA, to investigate the risk of incursion of these viruses into the UK and ongoing persistence.

Eligibility criteria

You will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for our PhD programme Veterinary Medicine and Science PhD research course. The successful candidate would be required to undergo enhanced security clearance to work at APHA and health surveillance including additional vaccinations to gain access to the high containment laboratory facilities. 

Candidates with relevant experience in virology, molecular biology, bioinformatics (including working with ‘R-program’), or entomology would be considered preferential, but not essential. As this studentship requires integration between two organisations the successful candidate will be highly motivated and have excellent communications skills. 

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Veterinary Medicine and Science programme page. In place of a research proposal you should upload a document stating the title of the project that you wish to apply for and the name of the relevant supervisor.

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Application deadline

Contact details

Denise Marston
E-mail: d.marston@surrey.ac.uk

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