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LIMR Virology: Sun exposure as a novel risk factor for Zika virus infection


Key facts

Type of research degree
4 year PhD
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
International (outside UK)
Dr Clive McKimmie and Dr Kave Shams
Additional supervisors
Dr Stephen Griffin
School of Medicine
Research groups/institutes
Leeds Institute of Medical Research at St James's
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Mosquito-borne disease is now receiving unprecedented attention due to major outbreaks in new geographic areas including Brazil, Mexico, India, China, the Middle East and SE Asia. A changing climate and globalization is increasing their range, as witnessed by the spread of the Zika and dengue viruses. These viruses can cause highly disabling and sometimes lethal disease. In the absence of effective medications there now exists an urgent need to better understand these infections. Furthermore, the clinical course of these diseases is highly unpredictable, which makes the management of these patients difficult.<br /> <br />

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>Infected mosquitoes transmit virus to the human host as they probe the skin for blood. As such, infection of the skin represents a key stage of infection that is a common aspect of all mosquito-borne virus infections. We showed, in a widely-reported paper, that host inflammatory responses to mosquito bites inadvertently enhances virus infection. Fascinatingly, we have now shown that exposure of the skin to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun dramatically increases your susceptibility to infection by mosquito-borne viruses. This ambitious project will work out how UV has this important enhancing effect. UV may help the virus infect cells directly or could also suppress immune responses to the virus. Potentially, sun exposure could be a useful risk factor that helps clinicians to treat patients and additionally can inform public health campaigns that aim to reduce sun exposure.</p> <p>This project will benefit from using the latest biomedical technologies and a unique collaborative environment that brings to together clinicians and scientists. This includes using systems biology-based methodologies to discover new personalized medicine approaches and therapies for treating these infections. As such, this project will provide the perfect opportunity to learn new skills, gain expertise from leading specialists and publish papers in world leading journals.</p> <p><strong>In line with the bespoke nature of our International PhD Academy a modified PhD project can be proposed dependent on students interests and background.</strong></p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Please note these are not standalone projects and applicants must apply to the PhD academy directly.</p> <p>Applications can be made at any time. You should complete an <a href="">online application form</a> and attach the following documentation to support your application.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>a full academic CV</li> <li>degree certificate and transcripts of marks (or marks so far if still studying)</li> <li>Evidence that you meet the programme&rsquo;s minimum English language requirements (if applicable, see requirement below)</li> <li>Evidence of funding to support your studies</li> </ul> <p>To help us identify that you are applying for this project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;</p> <ul> <li>Select PhD in Medicine, Health &amp; Human Disease as your planned programme of study</li> <li>Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert</li> </ul>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

A degree in biological sciences, dentistry, medicine, midwifery, nursing, psychology or a good honours degree in a subject relevant to the research topic. A Masters degree in a relevant subject may also be required in some areas of the Faculty. For entry requirements for all other research degrees we offer, please contact us.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The minimum requirements for this programme in IELTS and TOEFL tests are: &bull; British Council IELTS - score of 7.0 overall, with no element less than 6.5 &bull; TOEFL iBT - overall score of 100 with the listening and reading element no less than 22, writing element no less than 23 and the speaking element no less than 24.

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>Informal enquires about regarding the bespoke taught first year of the PhD programme and research projects can be made by contacting</p> <p>Enquiries regarding the application process should be directed to the Faculty of Medicine and Health Graduate School e: <a href=""></a></p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>