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ESR-3 Development and mode of action of chikungunya virus inhibitors (LUMC)

Project description
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-borne positive-strand RNA virus that causes a severe arthritis that can persist for months. Registered vaccines or antiviral drugs to prevent or treat CHIKV infections are not available. Massive outbreaks have occurred since 2006 (millions of cases) and the geographic distribution of CHIKV has expanded dramatically. Last year, the virus also became endemic in South and Central America, causing ~1 million infections. This PhD project is aimed at identifying and developing CHIKV inhibitors, including compounds affecting host factors or functions that are important for CHIKV replication. Chikungunya virus is a BSL-3 agent and the ESR will be trained in performing experiments under the appropriate bio-containment conditions. Following identification of antiviral hits, the mode of action of selected inhibitors will be studied in detail and strategies to improve their efficacy will be explored. To this end, a combination of techniques from virus genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and cell biology will be integrated into a research program that will also benefit from established collaborations with other ANTIVIRALS partners.

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
In 1575 Leiden University was the first university founded in the Netherlands. Today, 440 years later, its medical center (LUMC) is a modern knowledge center with over 7,000 staff members who are passionate about combating disease and improving patient care through scientific research. The virological and bacteriological research activities of the Department of Medical Microbiology are embedded in the LUMC research profile Immunity, Infection & Tolerance. The efforts of the molecular virology team of Prof. Eric Snijder are focused on the replication, virus-host interactions, and evolution of (emerging) positive-stranded RNA viruses, studies often performed in collaborative European projects. The PhD projects of the ANTIVIRALS ESRs will be embedded in the LUMC Graduate School, which offers a highly reputed research environment, excellent infrastructure and supervision, and in-depth scientific and transferable skill courses jointly developed by Leiden University and LUMC.

Candidate found. Vacancy is closed.