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PhD: Identification of cellular factors to evaluate the zoonotic potential of influenza strains (m/v)

Réf 1379808


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You will be responsible for the organization, execution and reporting of the "PANDAI" research project, a transversal research project of sciensano within the framework of "One Health". You collaborate in the drafting of reports and publication of results. The objective of the PANDAI project : ¿Identification of Virus-host interaction networks to evaluate the pandemic risk of avian influenza viruses". In the context of pandemic preparedness, the project will fit within the global efforts to improve the assessment of the zoonotic and pandemic potential of circulating and emerging avian influenza viruses. The ultimate goal is to develop phenotypic tests based on interactomics and mass-spectrometry to evaluate the zoonotic potential of newly detected or emerging avian influenza viruses without requiring to in-vivo experiments as it is currently done. The specific project objectives are: To determine the similarities and differences between avian influenza viruses (un-adapted to humans), avian viruses being responsible for zoonotic transmission events (adapting), and human influenza viruses (adapted) in their interaction networks with human cellular proteins involved in two biological processes (nucleic acid repair and innate immunity). To evaluate the potential of mass-spectrometry to assess the adaptation of avian viruses to human cells by following the degree of interaction with some selected cellular proteins. The project is based on a close relationship between partners, both within and outside Sciensano. It will reinforce the collaboration between the human and avian influenza teams of Sciensano. The comparison of avian and human influenza viruses¿ interaction networks will lead to the identification of several cellular factors of interest, offering a wide possibility to set up together functional studies. Knowledge, experience and expertise will be shared, and the PhD student will be working in both laboratories. In addition, work in collaboration with the Platform Chromatography and Mass-spectrometry will be fostered to further study the detected interactions in infected cells and to develop phenotypic tests. Finally, the project includes active collaboration with the `Institut Pasteur Paris¿. Other (unfunded) partners will also take part in the discussions (ANSES, France; Instituto Nacional de Saude, Portugal; Mons University, Belgium; Ghent University, Belgium). You present the results at national and international meetings and conferences, you discuss them with (inter)national experts and report them in peer-reviewed publications. The result of your research will contribute to obtaining a doctorate that you will prepare. The start of the project is planned March/April 2021; primary location of employment will be Ukkel (Groeselenberg).


Master in veterinary, biological, biomedical, bioengineering or equivalent sciences.
Willing to work with different services of Sciensano and go to France to do research at the Pasteur Institute of Paris
Willing to work in a context of strict biosecurty measures (BSL 3)
Motivation to conduct scientific research with the aim of defending a PhD
Willing to do independent laboratory work Specific knowledge:
¿ knowledge of virology, immunology and molecular biology ¿ an interest in applied research ¿ in-depth knowledge of MS Office applications Generic skills:
¿ objective and organized orientation ¿ solution orientation ¿ precise, enterprising and stress resistant ¿ good communication ¿ autonomous and able to work in a team ¿ studious. Languages: French or Dutch as well as a thorough knowledge of English (written and oral)

Connaissances linguistiques

Engels : Middelmatige
  • België
  • Ingenieurs

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