Veterinary Microbiology: Studying the interaction of classical swine fever virus (CSFV) with porcine tonsillar cells

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.


Classical swine fever virus (CSFV) is a highly contagious virus that is exotic virus to the UK and an outbreak of CSF would have severe socioeconomic and animal welfare impacts. While there is a very potent vaccine available, its use is limited by the inability to differentiate vaccinated from infected animals. To gain insights into the mechanisms of vaccine protection to inform on the generation of better vaccines this project will involve the characterisation of the porcine host response to the existing potent vaccine and comparison to immune responses induced upon infection with pathogenic CSFV strains to identify the mechanisms of protection verses infection.

While the project will make use of established animal models it will also aim to develop and employ in vitro techniques to study virus and vaccine interactions with single tonsillar cell populations as well as mixtures of tonsillar cells in vitro including organoid cultures. To achieve the aims, the student will employ methods beyond cell culture, such as microscopy (including confocal), multi-parameter flow cytometry (including cell sorting), PCR/qPCR and transcriptomic technology. 

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. Helen Crooke (Animal and Plant Health Agency-Weybridge).

Related links

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 Helen Crooke,, 01932 357 331.

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