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ESR-2 Identifying FDA-approved drugs as novel inhibitors of virus replication (UU)

We preformed comparative small molecule screens using libraries of FDA-approved drugs to identify inhibitors of coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3, an enterovirus), mouse hepatitis virus (MHV, a coronavirus), respiratory syncytial virus and influenza virus. Following this approach, several novel inhibitors of these viruses were identified. ESR2 will determine the spectrum of activity of a selection of inhibitors and characterize their mode of action in detail using a combination of molecular virological, biochemical, cell biological and microscopy techniques. These studies include the analysis of the stage of the viral life cycle that is inhibited by the inhibitor and the identification of its molecular target (e.g. by selecting and genotyping drug-resistant mutants). Together with other ANTIVIRALS partner, strategies to improve the efficacy of the inhibitors will be explored and the antiviral efficacy of a selected group of inhibitors will be evaluated in infection models in mice.

The Network
This PhD position is part of the European training network ANTIVIRALS (www.antivirals-etn.eu). The candidate will benefit from the ANTIVIRALS network, which includes regular (scientific) network meetings and training in research methodology and complementary skills. This research project offers unique opportunities for establishing a broad and international scientific network with partners from the academic and industrial sector. The research project is performed in close collaboration with and partly at the premises of other institutions of the ANTIVIRALS network.

Host institute
Utrecht University (UU), one of the largest in Europe, is consistently rated the top Dutch university (Shanghai Ranking). It offers 45 undergraduate and 167 graduate programmes, it has some 30,000 students served by 7,500 academic staff grouped into seven faculties, and it has 6 graduate schools (ESRs will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Life Sciences). The Department of Infectious Diseases & Immunology of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine – which is considered one of the top 3 veterinary research institutes in the world – consists of the Divisions Virology, Infection Biology, Immunology, Molecular Host Defence, and Clinical Infectiology.

Research at the Virology division aims to unravel the structure, entry, replication, and molecular pathogenesis of several RNA viruses that are of human clinical and veterinary relevance. These include the nidoviruses (i.e. corona-, toro- and arteriviruses), picornaviruses (e.g. entero-, cardio-, and aphthoviruses), influenza A virus, and respiratory syncytial virus. Our ultimate goal is to translate this knowledge into the development of novel therapeutic and prophylactic strategies.

Research of the ESR will be embedded in the Graduate School of Life Sciences and the UU Center for Infection and Immunity, which facilitates collaboration of all research related to Infectious diseases, Microbiology, Inflammation and Immunology within the broader Utrecht area.

Candidate found. Vacancy is closed.