PhD Studentship in Biological Sciences

University of Cambridge

Characterisation of secretion of engineered adeno-associated viruses (AAV)

A fully funded 4-year BBSRC-CTP Industrial CASE PhD studentship is available, commencing on 1st October 2021, to investigate host cell-AAV (adeno-associated virus) interactions that can be optimized to intensify AAV manufacture of difficult to express serotypes. The aim of the BBSRC-CTP awards is to provide PhD students with a first class training experience both in academic and non-academic partner organizations. This project is partnered by AstraZeneca (AZ), a world-leading company specializing in antibody, vector delivery for gene therapy and peptide therapeutics. The work will make use AZ's considerable experience in developing AAV's at scale suitable for both clinic and market supply.

AAV is a small parvovirus composed of a capsid, which can be engineered to act as a vector delivery system for gene therapy or to enable in vivo expression of biologics. The development of efficient manufacturing processes capable of producing AAV at scale is still in its infancy. One challenge is the apparent serotype-dependent poor expression in human cell lines.

The project seeks to better understand the fundamental mechanisms involved in AAV secretion, especially where secretion is impaired. Identification of proteins that change their expression and/or location in cells expressing easy/hard to express AAV serotypes is of vital importance in generating cell lines for clinical supply of delivery systems for gene therapy and immunotherapy.

The student will employ a multi-omics approach to characterize AAV-cell interactions, using novel spatial proteomics methods developed by Professor Kathryn Lilley's group (, that accurately locate proteins to subcellular structures on a proteome wide scale 1,2. These data will be integrated with whole proteome and transcriptome analysis from the same serotypes. Cutting-edge high resolution imaging will also be used for data validation.

The successful candidate will be jointly supervised by Prof. Lilley, in the Dept. of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge and a supervisory team at AZ, soon to be located at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Further details of our PhD program can be found at

Applicants should hold or be about to achieve a First or Upper-Second (2.i) class degree in a relevant subject.

Funding: A stipend (currently £17000 pa) will be provided for up to 4 years. This funding covers the University Composition Fee (Home fees rate) and Maintenance and consumables. The studentship is open to UK citizens or EU students who meet the UK residency requirements for Home fees, and international (including EU) candidates able to provide the difference in Home and Overseas fees from other sources. For further information see:

Application: Please e-mail Prof. Lilley ( with following information by 20th March 2021: CV (max two pages), with full contact details of 2 academic referees and a covering letter (max two pages) highlighting (a) your research interests (b) what you hope to achieve from the programme, (c) your career aspirations (d) why you wish to undertake this PhD.

Also, please apply to the University by the above deadline using the Applicant Portal: Fully completed applications. Please search in the Course Directory for "Biochemistry" PhD studentships.

NOTE: you must complete the 'Research Summary' section of the University application form.

Please direct any questions to the Graduate Admissions Administrator at The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity. 1. Geladaki A, Nature Commun. 2019. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-08191-w 2. Christophorou A, Nature Commun. 2016 doi: 10.1038/ncomms9992.

If you have questions about the application process please email

Please quote reference PH25650 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.