Targeting early interactions between the veterinary pathogen Lumpy skin disease virus

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Sir William Dunn Sch of Pathology


The hypothesis of this project is the initial interactions between Lumpy skin disease virus, cattle host, and insect vector are key to determining the outcome of infection.
Background: Lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV) is the causative agent of lumpy skin disease (LSD), a severe, systemic disease of cattle. LSD is endemic throughout Africa and the Middle East where it causes significant economic loss to farmers, hinders trade, and contributes to rural poverty. In 2015 LSD entered Europe for the first time. The resultant and continuing epidemic has triggered the slaughter of thousands of cattle, mass vaccination campaigns, animal movement restrictions and export bans.
One of the key knowledge gaps hampering efforts to control LSD is an understanding of how LSDV is transmitted. Insect-borne transmission is believed to be the most likely route of spread. A BBSRC-funded project (BB/R002606/1), supported by Merck Animal Health, is currently underway at the Pirbright Institute to characterise insect-borne LSDV transmission. This PhD studentship is designed to complement this work, and will concentrate on the initial LSDV-host interactions which occur in the skin of the animal.
The student will develop a model of bovine skin and construct a fluorescently tagged LSDV strain in order to investigate these interactions. These tools will be used to study the molecular pathways used by LSDV in different cell types, and to compare the early replication events of virulent and attenuated LSDV strains.
Organisations: The Pirbright Institute is a world leading centre of excellence in research and surveillance of virus diseases of farm animals. Its mission is to enhance our capability to contain, control and eliminate these diseases through highly innovative fundamental and applied bioscience. The student will carry out the majority of their research in the Pirbright high-containment laboratories (opened in 2014) which are designed to allow exotic transboundary pathogens such as LSDV to be studied. This work will be complemented by specialist support in inflammation biology from the laboratory of Professor Greaves at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford.
Merck Animal Health will provide the student with a 12 week non-academic placement. Merck Animal Health is a global animal healthcare leader, with offices in more than 50 countries and business operations in more than 150 markets, including a global network of manufacturing and R&D facilities. The student will be able to take up the internship at one or more sites of the company, possibly requiring travel abroad, and will be exposed to different departments such as marketing, communications, policy, scientific writing, and others. By the end of the placement the student will be expected to have an understanding of the dynamics driving the pharmaceutical industry, how decisions are made for research into new products, product life span management, methods used to support a product in the field, including marketing and technical training to end users, and how decisions are prioritised by business needs.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011224/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
2107893 Studentship BB/M011224/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2022 Charlotte Cook