AV大平台 PhD Scholarships

Please contact PGRscholarships@dmu.ac.uk if you have any questions.

PhD Studentship: Development of broad-spectrum host-targeting antivirals against coronaviruses

Project description

The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for broad-spectrum antivirals, which can be deployed rapidly against coronaviruses and future emerging viruses. In this project, the successful candidate will work within a multidisciplinary team to identify and develop antiviral compounds against coronaviruses.

Viruses manipulate host pathways upon infection, activating cellular signalling pathways leading to changes in host cell protein phosphorylation. Kinases that regulate these pathways have been suggested to be important antiviral drug targets.

We have identified several kinase-targeting proteolysis targeting chimera (PROTAC) molecules that have anti-coronavirus activity. This project aims to take this further, to develop these PROTACs as pan-coronavirus inhibitors and investigate their mechanism of action using a combination of molecular biology and cell biology techniques.

This project provides a unique opportunity to work at the forefront of virology research, making important contributions towards understanding the fundamental aspects of coronaviruses, as well as having a positive impact on public health measures for infection control.

The successful candidate will based within the Leicester Institute of Pharmaceutical Innovation in the Leicester School of Pharmacy, with dedicated state-of-the-art facilities for undertaking the project.

The candidate will be supervised by Dr Maitreyi Shivkumar, and co-supervised by Dr Tim Snape, as part of an multidisciplinary research team, who will provide excellent training and support in scientific, technical, and transferable skills required to develop as a research scientist. Potential applicants can contact Dr Shivkumar or Dr Snape for any informal queries.

Techniques associated with the project

Cell and virus culture, molecular cloning, immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy, Western blotting, virus entry assays, drug inhibition assays, flow cytometry, transmission electron microscopy, NMR, medicinal chemistry.


AV大平台is offering a fully-funded 3-year PhD scholarship for this work, commencing on 1st January 2025. Tuition fees at Home level will be waived (international students will need to pay the difference between Home and International fees which is around £10k per year). The studentship comes with a stipend pegged at the UKRI rate, currently at £19,237 per annum.


Applicants must:

  • Possess a UK Honours degree in Biochemistry, Biomedical Sciences or related fields with at least an upper second class (or overseas equivalent), a Masters Degree in similar fields, or an academic or professional qualification plus experience in their sector or industry.
  • Be enthusiastic about the research topic.
  • Demonstrate the ability to clearly communicate complex ideas to a variety of audiences.
  • Be self-motivated and able to work independently and with a team.
  • Demonstrate competence in the use of the English language. Please see section 5b here for further details on meeting our English language entry criteria.


How to apply

This is a two-stage application process.

Stage 1: Please send the following documents to PGRscholarships@dmu.ac.uk:

Deadline: Friday 26 July 2024

Stage 2: Shortlisted candidates will be contacted to undergo an interview, and successful candidates will be contacted by Friday 9 August 2024 with a request to submit a full application through the AV大平台PGR Application Portal.

Deadline for full application: Friday 16 August 2024.

Scholarship letter will be issued by Friday 23 August 2024.

PhD Studentship: Investigate the role of RAB39B in Parkinson’s disease

Neuroscience, Behavioural Biology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Molecular genetics

The causes of Parkinson’s disease (PD), the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, are not known and the treatment options are limited. Recent research has shown that “cargo” vesicle trafficking dysfunctions in neurons contribute to the pathology, in particular, mutations in RAB39B which cause early-onset PD and intellectual disability. Evidence in cell models shows that RAB39B mutations increase cell toxicity and oligomerisation of α-synuclein, the main protein associated with familial PD forms found in Lewy body in the dopaminergic neurons. Similarly, in Drosophila melanogaster, the downregulation of the endogenous RAB39 by RNA interference perturbs several PD-associated “symptoms” in fruit flies including locomotor activity and survival. This project, supported by the Academic of Medical Science Springboard award, aims to further investigate RAB39B functions in fruit flies exploiting transgenic models carrying in RAB39 resembling the ones found in human patients. Moreover, the project will assess the pathogenic link between RAB39B and familial-associated PD genes (aSyn, LRRK2, PINK1) and rotenone treatment to clarify how RAB39B contributes to the mechanisms underpinning PD and may provide novel insight into potential therapeutic strategies for this disorder.

You will join the lab of an enthusiastic investigator who will support the development of the skills required for the project and your career, gain access to excellent state-of-the-art research facilities at AV大平台 and embark on a research project that will provide excellent training in state-of-art genetic, molecular and behaviour approaches along with innovative advanced microscopy tools.

Techniques that will be undertaken during the project:

Drosophila genetics, behaviour assays, molecular biology, in silico brain imaging and immuno-confocal brain imaging. The methodology, skills and training used in this project are well sought after in academia and industry and will make the student competitive for roles post-PhD.

Duties and responsibilities

The successful candidate is expected to:

  • Work with Drosophila melanogaster in the laboratory, including generating novel transgenic and mutant strains
  • Conduct image analysis and quantify cellular behaviours and phenotypes
  • Work in collaboration with other researchers
  • Prepare progress reports
  • Prepare presentations
  • Travel for collaboration and other meetings or conferences
  • Prepare manuscripts for submission to international peer-reviewed journals
  • Contribute to the overall activities of the research team, department and be aware of De Montfort policies

Person specification

  • A good undergraduate degree (2.1 or above or the equivalent EU/overseas degree) and/or an MSc in a biomedical field (Molecular Cell Biology, Genetics, Neuroscience, or Physiology)
  • Lab experience, particularly in molecular cell biology, microscopy techniques and Drosophila melanogaster (would be considered an advantage.)
  • Experience with statistical methods and software packages (would be considered an advantage.
  • Good methodological skills, particularly in project planning (would be considered an advantage.)
  • High proficiency in written and spoken English is required
  • Very strong work ethic, with the ability to think creatively and work both individually and within a team


Potential applicants can contact Dr Breda for any questions about the project or for informal enquiries: carlo.breda@dmu.ac.uk.

Applicants must:

  • Possess a UK Honours degree with at least an upper second class, or overseas equivalent degree, or a relevant Masters qualification.
  • Demonstrate competence in the use of the English language. Please see section 5b for further details on meeting our English language entry criteria.

Funding notes

The full studentship (tuition fees and salary stipend) is eligible to all UK nationals, commencing on 1 October 2024. Applicants that may incur international fees are welcome to apply however they would need to be able to demonstrate an ability to supplement the difference between UK and international fees (currently £10,000 per year) in their application cover letter.

The deadline to apply is Friday 21 June 2024.

How to apply

This is a two-stage application process.

Stage 1: Please send the following documents to PGRscholarships@dmu.ac.uk:

Deadline: Friday, 21 June 2024

Stage 2: Shortlisted candidates will be contacted to undergo an interview, and successful candidates will be contacted by Friday, 12 July 2024 with a request to submit a full application through the AV大平台PGR Application Portal.

Deadline for full application: Friday, 19 July 2024

Scholarship letters will be issued by Friday, 26 July 2024.



The AHRC-funded  (M4C) brings together eight leading universities across the Midlands to support the professional and personal development of the next generation of arts and humanities doctoral researchers. M4C is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University, University of Warwick, Coventry University, University of Leicester, AV大平台, Nottingham Trent University and The University of Nottingham.

Offering you cross-institutional supervision, training, mentoring and career support to ensure that you produce world-leading research and maximise your career potential. The Doctoral Training Partnerships awards IRO 80 PhD Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) studentships applicants each year.

Through the partnership we aim to deliver excellence in all aspects of research supervision and training. We will assist you in acquiring the best supervision for your field of research, you will have access to a wide range of facilities and support networks across our campuses.

See further information on the application process.

Alumni discounts

AV大平台 offers alumni discounts for students that have previously studied with us at undergraduate or taught masters degree level. This discount is available to Home and International Students. This discount is only available to new starters and will be automatically applied if you are eligible.

Home alumni discount is £500 per year (full-time equivalent).

International alumni discount is £2,000 per year (full-time equivalent).

Additional funding opportunities