Veterinary Microbiology: Investigating the pathogenesis of hepatitis E virus (HEV) in pigs and into the pork food chain

A fully funded PhD opportunity has become available in the Veterinary School at the University of Surrey. 

Application deadline
Funding information

This studentship is fully funded and the fund covers the University of Surrey registration fee, doctoral stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum (£14,777p.a. for 2018/19) and the bench fee. Due to funding constraints only UK/EU application can be considered. This is a full time PhD project, which is planned for a period of three years. Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.


Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is the cause of hepatitis E in humans, typically a self-limiting hepatitis but more serious in those with pre-existing liver conditions and in the immunocompromised. In pigs, HEV infection alone does not cause clinical disease and HEV is ubiquitous in the pig population worldwide. Hepatitis E is a foodborne zoonosis, for which pork or pork products from infected pigs is one of the risks identified in Europe, where non-travel associated Hepatitis E cases have increased in recent years. Hence, there is a need to better understand factors affecting HEV in pigs before it can enter the food chain and to address gaps in our knowledge and understanding regarding the pathogenesis of HEV in pigs and its transmission into the food chain.

Areas requiring an improved understanding include the role of the host immune system, adaptation of the virus, its shedding and co-infections, the distribution in the edible tissues (i.e. intra-hepatic and extra-hepatic sites) and relevant meat preparations and products. The PhD project will encompass a range of experiments to address critical information gaps including investigating the distribution and evolution of HEV in pigs. The project will allow the student the opportunity to undertake numerous molecular and classical laboratory techniques expanding on work and expertise already developed within at the Virology Dept. at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

The project will be carried out in collaboration with the APHA and the successful candidate will be mainly working at their Weybridge labs.


The project will be under the supervision of Prof. Falko Steinbach (University of Surrey) and Dr. Bhudipa Choudhury (Animal and Plant Health Agency-Weybridge).

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Eligibility criteria

Essential requirements

  • A BSc (Hons) degree in a relevant biological subject
  • Strong interest or connection to Virology  
  • Team working
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Dedication and passion in advancing science in the area of host-pathogen interaction and evolution.

Desirable requirements

  • A masters degree (or equivalent training) in virology/microbiology or immunology.

If English is not your first language please check the University of Surrey website for language and other requirements that have to be met prior to application. 

How to apply

Applications should be made online by 6th May 2018 via the Veterinary Medince and Science PhD course page.

Please state the project title and supervisor clearly on all applications – preferably as part of the project title.

When following the online application procedure, please also make sure to include a CV and a statement explaining how your experience and ambition relate to this studentship.

Contact details

For any application queries please contact: Dr Bhudipa Choudhury, , 01932 357 559.

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