FHMS Studentships and Scholarships

The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Surrey offers studentships and scholarships in conjunction with industry to support students through their research.  

Details of current studentships and scholarships are listed below:

Behavioural and Immunological Control Methods for Culicoides biting midges in the UK

  • Anticipated start date:  October 2015
  • Duration: 4 Years
  • Application deadline: 20th March, 2015
  • Apply here


This studentship is open to science graduates (with, or who anticipate obtaining, at least a 2.1 or equivalent, in a relevant biological subject in their undergraduate degree, or a Masters degree - subject to university regulations). Other first degrees, e.g. veterinary science, will be considered. You should be looking for a challenging, interdisciplinary research training environment and have an active interest in the control of infectious diseases.

  • This is a fully-funded studentship only open to UK students and eligible EU students who qualify for home-rated fees, in line with BBSRC criteria
  • Students without English as a first language must also provide evidence that they meet the English language requirement, e.g. with an IELTS score of 7.0 and no less than 6.5 in any of the subsections.


Principle Supervisor:      Dr Simon Carpenter, The Pirbright Institute
University Supervisor:    Dr Karin Darpel, University of Surrey
Industrial Supervisor:     Dr Alison Blackwell, APS Biocontrol Ltd.  


Since 2007, the UK has faced unprecedented incursions of viruses spread by Culicoides biting midges, tiny flies which are ubiquitous on livestock farms across Europe. While the factors driving the emergence of such viruses remain poorly understood (including their original means of arrival in Europe), it is clear that further incursions could occur. The Pirbright Institute and Advanced Pest Solutions have been at the forefront of responses to Culicoides-borne pathogens and the student chosen to carry out the project will explore two important areas in their control.

Firstly, the presence of adult Culicoides in animal housing has been hypothesised to play a major role in overwintering and spread of arboviruses through extending the period for which adults can survive during winter. The student will examine this phenomenon in detail with a view to understanding factors driving movement of populations into housing and the potential epidemiological impact this may play in outbreaks. An important applied impact from these studies will be a clearer understanding of the role that biocontainment practices could have on commercial premises and how these would impact on day to day working. This area will include the primary industrial placement for the studentship with the selected candidate working closely with Dr Blackwell and benefiting from her unique experience in Culicoides behavioural ecology.

Secondly, the studentship will also examine immune responses of hosts to unnaturally high doses of arthropod saliva and their potential as vaccine components of arbovirus vaccines as well as any effects on Culicoides survival. Data collected by Dr Alasdair Nisbet of the Moredun Institute and APS has demonstrated that ‘inoculation’ of sheep with a Culicoides extract produced elevated levels of serum antibodies and feeding on blood of treated sheep subsequently reduced survival in Culicoides.

Recently a method has been developed to collect concentrated pure Culicoides saliva proteins. Serum from naturally exposed cattle and sheep will initially be screened for anti-Culicoides saliva antibody levels, assessing seasonality of exposure and likely degree of saliva protein cross-recognition between species. Conserved immunogenic Culicoides saliva proteins across samples will then be identified. A vaccination trial of sheep with saliva purified proteins will analyse immunological responses to saliva proteins as well as survival and fecundity of subsequently blood-feeding Culicoides.

In addition to developing a wide range transferable field and laboratory techniques, the selected candidate will gain the opportunity to be part of a team whose roles range from academic research to providing policy advice during outbreaks. While the technical framework of the studentship is well developed, there is substantial opportunity within the project for the student to follow up their own specific interests in entomology, ecology or immunology.

References for background reading:

  1. Carpenter, S., Groschup, M.H., Garros, C., Felippe-Bauer, M.L., Purse, B.V. 2013. Culicoides biting midges, arboviruses and public health in Europe. Antiviral research 100(1), 102-113.
  2. Nuttall, P.A., Trimnell, A.R., Kazimirova, M., Labuda, M. 2006. Exposed and concealed antigens as vaccine targets for controlling ticks and tick-borne diseases. Parasite Immunology. 28(4), 155-163.
  3. Meiswinkel, R., Baylis, M., Labuschagne, K. 2000. Stabling and the protection of horses from Culicoides bolitinos (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae), a recently identified vector of African horse sickness. Bulletin of Entomological Research. 90(6), 509-515.

Registration, training and funding:

This is a fully funded BBSRC CASE award. This is a collaborative studentship between The Pirbright Institute, the University of Surrey and APS Biocontrol LTD. The majority of the laboratory and field work will carried out at The Pirbright Institute. The student will be registered at the University of Surrey, providing access to a wide range of student facilities and training courses on both sites. The student will also be expected to undertake a placement of at least three months with APS Biocontrol Ltd. At Pirbright the candidate will be joining the Entomology group within the Vector-borne viral disease programme. At the University they will become a member of the Department of Pathology and Infectious Diseases of the School of Veterinary Medicine. Eligible students will receive a minimum annual stipend of £13,863 and university registration fees will be paid.

Further information regarding the partner institutions can be found at:

The Pirbright Institute
APS Biocontrol Ltd.


What is the role of the polysaccharide storage compound glycogen in the life cycle of Mycobacterium tuberculosis?

Primary supervisor: Dr Dany JV Beste

Application deadline: All year round

With the average daily death toll from tuberculosis at 4,500 and one third of the world is estimated to harbour the causative agent Mycobacterium tuberculosis asymptomatically the worldwide burden of this disease is overwhelming. Current drug therapies are being undermined by the worldwide spread of multi, extensively and even completely drug resistant strains making finding new drugs a priority. Glycogen and trehalose metabolism has been highlighted as a potentially fruitful area for anti-TB drug targets. Classically in bacteria these carbohydrates are used for storage of carbon but in M. tuberculosis they are also incorporated into important cell wall lipids critical to the virulence of this pathogen. Over accumulation of an alternative storage carbohydrate triacylglyceride has been associated with slow growth and drug tolerance but the impact of glycogen storage on the metabolism, physiology and antibiotic tolerance of M. tuberculosis has yet to be investigated. This PhD project aims to generate M. tuberculosis mutants which over and under produce glycogen and then use the tools of systems biology to explore the metabolic and physiological phenotype of these mutants in-vitro and also ex-vivo in human host cells. The findings will not only advance our knowledge about the metabolic strategy used by M. tuberculosis but could also aid in the development of novel anti-tuberculosis drugs.  

The project is suitable for a candidate with a background in microbiology and related disciplines and an interest in microbial metabolism. You also need to meet the entry requirements of the University if Surrey where this PhD will be based. Please address any enquiries to d.beste@surrey.ac.uk.

Funding Information
This is available to self-funded students and the candidate is required to cover cost of living and registration with the University of Surrey www.surrey.ac.uk in addition to bench fees of £10,000 per year.

Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008 Results

Unit of Assessment : Allied Health Professions and studies
FTE Category A submitted4*3*2*1*Unclassified
61.65 %20%40%35%5%0%

Subject areas

Biological and Medical Sciences
- Biochemistry
- Microbiology
- Molecular biology
- Systems biology


The emerging role of cardiac fibroblasts in heart physiology and pathology

Primary supervisor: Dr Patrizia Camelliti 

The heart is made up of many different cell types – myocytes which enable contraction, vascular cells which construct the blood supply network and fibroblasts which are traditionally thought to provide structural support.  In recent years, however, it has become clear that fibroblasts are not just a passive structural scaffold, but play an active role in heart function, particularly in disease where they become activated and their number increase to >70% of all heart cells. This PhD project will investigate the so far under explored mechanisms through which fibroblasts communicate with the myocytes and affect cardiac function in the normal heart and in response to cardiac diseases. The novel and exciting approach has the potential to identify new therapeutic targets which manipulate fibroblast contribution to heart function in disease.

You will be trained in cardiac electrophysiology, tissue engineering, molecular biology and advanced imaging methods. The main methodologies used in this project will be cell culture, western blotting, quantitative real-time PCR, ELISA, immunofluorescence, confocal microscopy, and multicellular electrophysiology methods including multi-electrode arrays and optical mapping.

You will be part of the Cardiovascular Research Group at the University of Surrey and will be involved in close collaborations with a number of other internationally recognised research groups at the University of Oxford, University College London and Washington University in St Louis. You will be encouraged to spend research visits in the above Institutions and present work at various national and international meetings.

For further information please contact Dr Patrizia Camelliti (p.camelliti@surrey.ac.uk)

Interested candidates should apply through the university website. Applicants should have a MSc degree or an upper second class degree.

Funding Information
This is available to self-funded students


Kohl P & Camelliti P. Fibroblast-myocyte connections in the heart. Heart Rhythm. 2012; 9:461-4.
Vasquez C, Mohandas P, Louie KL, Benamer N, Bapat AC, Morley GE. Enhanced fibroblast-myocyte interactions in response to cardiac injury. Circulation Research. 2010; 107(8):1011-20.
Camelliti P, Gallagher JO, Kohl P & McCulloch A. Micropatterned cell cultures on elastic membranes as an in vitro model of myocardium. Nature Protocols. 2006; 1:1379-1391.
Camelliti P, Borg TK, Kohl P. Structural and functional characterisation of cardiac fibroblasts. Cardiovasc Res. 2005; 65(1):40-51.

How to Apply

If you are interested in applying for a PhD or MD, please see the 'Programmes and How to Apply' section of the Graduate School Homepage or access our online application form.

Useful Links

Postgraduate Life at Surrey

To find out more about life as a postgraduate at Surrey, as a prospective or current student, visit the postgraduate pages.

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