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:

Comparative evaluation of the immunological mechanisms underlying the induction of protection by vaccine candidates based on naturally attenuated isolate and mutants strains of African swine fever virus

Duration: 3 or 4 years full-time


  • This studentship is open to self-funded students only; you must have access to your own funding, either from your home country or your own finances. Typical cost of living expenses (not including registration fees) will be approximately £17,000 per year. Bench fees will be approximately £6,000 per year. Please contact studentship.iah@pirbright.ac.uk for further information. 
  •  The studentship is a collaborative project with the University of Surrey and registration fees for 2015/16 will be £2,025 pa (subject to inflation) for UK/EU students and £8,400 pa (subject to inflation) for overseas students. 
  • This studentship is open to biological and veterinary science graduates (with, or who anticipate obtaining, at least a 2.1 or equivalent in their undergraduate degree, or a Masters degree - subject to university regulations). You should be looking for a challenging, interdisciplinary research training environment and have an active interest in the control of infectious diseases. You should have excellent decision making and problem solving skills as well as good time management and the ability to work reliably under pressure.

 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.

Principal Supervisor: Linda Dixon, The Pirbright Institute
Co-Supervisors: Pedro Sanchez-Cordon, The Pirbright Institute
Dave Chapman, The Pirbright Institute
University Supervisor: Simon Graham, University of Surrey

African swine fever (ASF) is one of the most devastating diseases for the swine industry against which there is no vaccine available. Recent studies carried out in our group have demonstrated that live attenuated vaccine candidates based on the naturally attenuated African swine fever virus (ASFV) isolate OURT88/3 and deletion mutants strains of virulent viruses can induce protection against lethal challenge with high virulent isolates. Protection can be induced by administration of the attenuated strains by the intramuscular or intranasal routes. Not all pigs are protected and an important goal is to identify the host immune responses that correlate with protection.
However, little is known about the immunological mechanisms underlying the induction of protection Both NK cells and T-cell (CD8+) responses have been suggested to have roles in protection in combination with a potentially protective humoral response. It is known that cytokines are responsible for directing most of the biological effects in the immune system. Like other viruses, ASFV has developed strategies to manipulate the cytokine response to modulate the outcome of the infection. Although some studies have suggested the possible role of interferon (IFNs) in directing protection against ASFV, the role of cytokines in regulating protective immune responses in vivo has been poorly studied to date.

Main objectives:
The main aim of this project will be to improve knowledge of protection mechanisms elicited by live attenuated ASFV vaccine candidates. To achieve this, the following objectives will be followed:
1) Determining (by ELISA and RT-PCR) the differences in cytokine profiles in blood and serum samples between immunised pigs that are protected and non-protected pigs after vaccination with attenuated strains and challenge with virulent ASFV strains. The potential role played by pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines will be investigated.
2) Determining the role of the humoral and cellular immune response in the protection induced by the different vaccine candidates by sero-neutralization tests and assays of cellular responses.
3) Evaluating the role of the mucosal immune system in the protection of pigs by studying the role of tonsils, regional lymph and lung. Virus-cell interactions as well as the local immune response will be investigated using different methods.
4) Evaluating the evolution and role of immunoglobulins (IgM, IgG and IgA) from blood, saliva and mucosal secretions in virus neutralisation.

References for background reading:
Fishbourne, E.; Hutet, E.; Abrams, C.; Cariolet, R.; Potier, M. F. le; Takamatsu, H. H.; Dixon, L. K. 2013 Increase in chemokines CXCL10 and CCL2 in blood from pigs infected with high compared to low virulence African swine fever virus isolates. Veterinary Research, 44, Article Number 87 ISSN:1297-9716
King, K , Chapman, D Argilaguet, JM ; Fishbourne, E., Hutet, E Cariolet, R Hutchings, G, Oura, CAL, Netherton, CL , Moffat, K , Taylor, G , Le Potier, MF , Dixon, LK , Takamatsu, HH 2011 Protection of European domestic pigs from virulent African isolates of African swine fever virus. Vaccine, 2011. 29: 4593-4600
Chapman, DAG., Tcherepanov, V., Upton C. and Dixon LK. 2008 Comparison of the genome sequences of non-pathogenic and pathogenic African swine fever virus isolates J Gen Virol ; 89: 397-408.
Oura, C.A.L., et al., Journal of General Virology, 2005. 86: p. 2445-2450.
Onisk, D.V., et al., Virology, 1994. 198: 350-354.

Click here to apply



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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