PhD studentship Innate immune responses to Hepatitis C virus

DoS Dr Gyorgy Fejer (, tel.: 01752 584455)

2nd Supervisor Prof Matthew Cramp (, tel.: 01752 792725)

3rd Supervisor Prof Simon Jackson (, tel.: 01752 584896)

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship. The studentship will start on October 1st 2013.

Project Description

Innate immune responses are crucial in defence against invading pathogens including many viruses. Macrophages and dendritic cells play crucial roles in these defence mechanisms. HCV is a global health problem with 180 million people infected worldwide. There is as yet no vaccine against HCV infection and current treatment is both toxic and expensive.  

The outcomes of HCV infection vary significantly between individuals and how host factors influence the pathogenesis of HCV induced liver disease is incompletely understood. Existing data suggest that the initial innate immune response and the production of type I and III interferons may be key factors in determining the course of infection and in responses to treatment.  A better understanding of the virus activated immune mechanisms is a key step in the design of better treatments and the development of an effective vaccine.

This project will analyse the role and mechanisms of mononuclear phagocyte mediated innate immune responses. We will characterise HCV induced defence pathways in specific mononuclear phagocyte subsets using molecular immunology techniques. These responses will be determined in relevant patient groups of HCV infected individuals. 1) cases with apparent resistance to HCV infection 2) spontaneous resolvers of HCV infection and 3) cases with chronic infection undergoing anti-viral treatment.

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The student will join teams with established reputations in research in infection and immunity, macrophage and dendritic cell biology and HCV (PNAS, 110(24):E2191-8, 2013; J Infect Dis., 203(6):847-53, 2011, Nat. Immunol., 11(9):814-9, 2010). In this interdisciplinary studentship, the student will benefit from a wide range of research training and laboratory techniques including tissue culture, molecular virology and immunology techniques, purification of leukocyte subsets, flow cytometry, quantification of protein and RNA expression and global gene expression analysis.


Applicants should have, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant MSc or MRes qualification or laboratory experience.

The studentship is supported for 3 years and includes full Home/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of £13,726 per annum. Due to funding restrictions the studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for Home/EU fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover overseas fees will have to cover the difference between the Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates (approximately £9,790 per annum).

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Gyorgy Fejer ( However, applications must be made in accordance with the details shown below.

For an application form and full details on how to apply, please visit the Apply link below. Applicants should send a completed application form along with a covering letter detailing their suitability for the studentship, C.V., and 2 references to Catherine Johnson, Faculty of Science and Technology Research Office, Room A425, Portland Square, Plymouth PL4 8AA or e-mail

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The closing date for applications is 12 noon on 23 August 2013. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications.  Applicants who have not received an offer of a place by June should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.

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