Influenza A virus evolution: Determining the key factors that influence emergence of influenza variants of animal and public health significance

Dr Nicola Lewis, Pathobiology and Population Sciences, Royal Veterinary College
TBC, Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)
EARLY START DATE! Join this project from April 2020

project details

Our research aims to understand the complex evolutionary pathways that result in the emergence of influenza virus variants that pose a threat to human and animal health. The project will identify viral and host factors (particularly in poultry and pigs) which determine the potential for emergence into new hosts and explore how this understanding can be used to implement effective control measures such as vaccination.
We take an inter-disciplinary approach to One Health questions, by integrating surveillance, virology, ecology, and state-of-the-art antigenic and genetic computational analyses to understand pathogen evolution. Along with training and guidance, you will have flexibility to shape the project according to your interests.

The PhD will utilize the resources and facilities at the OIE/FAO International Reference Laboratory for avian influenza, swine influenza and Newcastle Disease at APHA-Weybridge as well as the Royal Veterinary College Hawkshead campus.

Dr Nicola Lewis is Associate Professor in Infectious Diseases and Co-ordinator of the Livestock Production and Health research programme at the RVC. Nicola is also Deputy Director of the OIE/FAO International Reference Laboratory for avian influenza, swine influenza and Newcastle Disease at APHA-Weybridge. Her research focuses on investigating the ecology and evolution of influenza A viruses in multiple animal hosts and the risks that these viruses might pose to the human population, with a global context. This internationally collaborative high-impact research spans huge diversity from implementing surveillance in wild birds in the Republic of Georgia, analyzing emerging highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses, to using state-of-the-art computational techniques to analyse influenza virus antigenic and genetic evolution, to assess pandemic risk, and to inform international stakeholders on vaccine strains.

eligibility and application

Applicants must hold, or be expected to achieve, a first or high upper second-class undergraduate honours degree or equivalent (for example BA, BSc, MSci) or a Masters degree in a relevant subject. This project is funded by a 4-year BBSRC studentship, applicants should ensure they have understood the funding eligibility criteria for these studentships. Unfortunately international students are not eligible for programme funding on this project.

You will ideally have a degree in the biological sciences and an interest in infectious diseases. Some previous experience with laboratory work or quantitative/computational methods is desirable but not required.

For more information regarding the project, please contact Dr Nicola Lewis

Your application and supporting documents should be sent in a single email to When applying for iCASE projects the applicant should also include the iCASE Selection Form.


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