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BBSRC CTP in Advanced Bioscience of Viral Products (ABViP)

UCL joins forces with Oxford Biomedica and University of Oxford to train viral vector bioscience leaders for future cell and gene therapies and vaccines

picture of students in a lab

 

The BBSRC CTP in Advanced Bioscience of Viral Products (ABViP) is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary training programme designed to deliver the next generation of bioscience leaders who will advance research on the underpinning bioscience of viral products for future gene therapies and vaccines. Led by Oxford Biomedica and involving both UCL and University of Oxford, the ABViP CTP will train a cohort of 24 students (18 x CTP-funded, 6 x partner-funded) over a three year period to address the acute viral vector skills shortage.

 This CTP builds on Oxford Biomedica’s leading position in viral vector research, development and manufacture, and brings together world-leading academic partners, UCL and University of Oxford , representing two of the top 10 global universities. The three partners bring complementary expertise in lentiviral and adeno-associated viral vector bioprocessing, novel analytics and data science methodologies and viral vaccine design, development and characterisation.

  • Applications & Projects Open: December 2021
  • Application Deadlines: January 2022
  • Final interviews and appointments: mid-February 2022
  • Start Date: September/October 2022

Projects available

BBSRC PhD Studentship in Next Generation Viral Vector Design via Liquid Machine Learning Reinforced with Pan-omics

Department of Biochemical Engineering, University College London in collaboration with Oxford Biomedica

Application Deadline: Fri 21st Jan 2022 (12:00 midday GMT) Project Start Date: October 2022 Project ID: ABViP 2022/1

 

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency. The English language level for this programme is: Standard

Deadline and Application Process

The deadline for submission is 12:00 midday on Fri 21st Jan 2022

To apply for this PhD studentship, you must submit a formal application to the Research Degree: RRDBENSING01 Research Degree: Biochemical Engineering course for 2022/23 entry through UCL’s application portal by the above deadline, including the Project ID in your cover letter. During the application process, please upload a 2-page CV. More information about the course and application process is available in the UCL Prospectus.

About Oxford Biomedica

Oxford Biomedica (OXB) is a pioneer of gene and cell therapy with a leading position in viral vector research and bioprocessing. Our mission is to deliver life-changing gene therapies to patients. OXB is an innovation and science focussed company which has developed a leading platform of novel technologies and capabilities. The OXB team provide design, development, bioprocessing and analytical development for gene-based medicines based on viral vectors, both for in-house products and for those developed with partner organisations. OXB has contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) capabilities that support development of novel gene based medicines through all phases of clinical development to commercial manufacture. At Oxford Biomedica, we drive credible science to realise incredible results.

Entry requirements

A UK Master’s degree, or a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree, in a relevant discipline, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. We particularly welcome applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds, or via an unconventional career path. If you’re unclear as to whether you are eligible we would encourage you to submit an application regardless. You can also contact the project supervisor (see details below). To learn more about the policies in relation to diversity and inclusion at UCL, please click here for further information.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Dr Duygu Dikicioglu (E-mail: d.dikicioglu@ucl.ac.uk).

Funding

This BBSRC CTP ABViP Studentship is available to UK and Overseas (including EU) students. Full maintenance (stipend & fees) is available to UK and Overseas students for the duration of the four-year PhD. Note that up to a maximum of one fully-funded studentship allocation is available for Overseas students across the four UCL ABViP projects being offered in 2022/23. The annual tax-free stipend for the PhD studentship is £17,983 (estimated). More information for applying as an international student can be found by clicking on this link.

English language requirements

About the Department

This project is based in the Department of Biochemical Engineering at UCL, a world leader in bioprocess research creating novel engineering solutions to underpin future biomanufacturing processes. The Department of Biochemical Engineering represents one of the major bioprocessing groups in the world, where high-impact research activity is undertaken with a strong industry focus, linking advanced bioscience to an understanding of whole bioprocesses by which discoveries are translated into healthcare outcomes. The Department has superb facilities for biochemical engineering research with significant impact on the bioprocessing and biomanufacturing of cell and gene therapies, biologics, vaccines, oligonucleotides, regenerative medicines, high-value chemicals, pharmaceuticals and biomaterials.  Researchers in our Department make use of the recent >£30m of investment in comprehensive and unique facilities including a fully equipped pilot-plant.

Additional information about research in the Biochemical Engineering department

A webinar will be held on Thursday 13 January 2022 17.00 – 18.30 (GMT) which will introduce the ABViP Programme, introduce each of the projects and provide an opportunity to have your questions answered. The final 30 minutes of the webinar will be an opportunity for potential applicants to meet with current doctoral students at UCL and University of Oxford.

Register for ABViP webinar 13 January,

About the Project

Viral-based gene delivery systems are platforms that enable gene and cell-based therapies. The uniqueness of each designed therapy, and consequently the development of a tailored delivery system imposes key challenges in streamlining virus or viral vector production routes. A snapshot view of the cellular machinery governing the production process can be very valuable to understand the underpinning mechanisms. Therefore, high throughput cellular data (omics data) analysed employing advanced data analysis methods such as ML and deep learning can provide considerable insight into deriving the rules behind these cellular processes.

However, current data analysis methods struggle with two major issues: (i) Data models constructed to derive insight into the cellular machinery may very successfully explain the training data used to construct these models, but fail colossally in explaining new data, which is very different from existing data from which the models have been built, thus jeopardising the predictive capability of data models, and (ii) Data models that provide excellent biological insight for a particular snapshot in time may fail to describe variations introduced to the very same biological part, component or process over the course of time. Both result in incomplete understanding of the true biology and as a result.

Liquid machine learning is a novel paradigm in deep learning, which addresses these challenges by rapidly adapting to changes in the data stream and environment, rather than only learning while it’s being trained. This project proposes to develop methods and tools to generate liquid ML models of pan-omics data to elucidate the cellular machinery during virus or viral vector production.

About the BBSRC Collaborative Training Partnership in Advanced Bioscience of Viral Products (ABViP)

This PhD studentship is part of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) in Advanced Bioscience of Viral Products (ABViP). The ABViP CTP is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary training programme designed to deliver the next generation of bioscience leaders who will advance research on the underpinning bioscience of viral products for future gene therapies and vaccines. Led by Oxford Biomedica and involving both UCL and University of Oxford, CTP students will have access to a wide ranging portfolio of training opportunities at the Partner sites including taught courses and case studies designed to complement the doctoral research. Students trained through the ABViP CTP will gain a holistic insight into the research and development activities required to develop the medicines of the future, with the ability to see the world of medicines development through both an academic and industrial lens.  

More information about the ABViP CTP

Supervisors

Primary Supervisor:        Dr Duygu Dikicioglu Secondary Supervisors: Dr Kenth Gustafsson
BBSRC PhD Studentship in Oscillatory expression of lentiviral transgenes

Department of Biochemical Engineering, University College London in collaboration with Oxford Biomedica

Application Deadline: Fri 21st Jan 2022 (12:00 midday GMT) Project Start Date: October 2022 Project ID: ABViP 2022/2

 

The deadline for submission is 12:00 midday on Fri 21st Jan 2022

To apply for this PhD studentship, you must submit a formal application to the Research Degree: RRDBENSING01 Research Degree: Biochemical Engineering course for 2022/23 entry through UCL’s application portal by the above deadline, including the Project ID in your cover letter. During the application process, please upload a 2-page CV. More information about the course and application process is available in the UCL Prospectus.

Supervisors

Primary Supervisor: Dr Darren Nesbeth

Secondary Supervisors: Prof Alexey Zaikin

About the Project

Although antiretroviral drugs can give people a normal life expectancy after HIV infection, they will still have HIVinfected cells throughout their life that make viruses and compromise their health. By contrast, in the field of gene therapy technology, cells that have been genetically instructed to continually make lentivirus frequently inactivate their viral genes and stop making virus, compromising the effetiveness of gene therapy production. The project aims to model, design, build and test a ‘viroscillator’ genetic circuit to extend the productive lifespan of stable lentiviral packaging cells. The performance of the resulting cells will be tested against conventional stable lentiviral packaging cell lines. The natural lentivirus, HIV-1, can achieve robust, persistent production of infectious viral particles in infected humans over decades, despite the fact high levels of expression of HIV-1 genes can lead to cell death. Insights gained from mathematical modelling of this system suggested opposing function of two HIV1 genes act as positive and negative feedback loops respectively to bring about oscillation of viral genes overall. In this way the rate of production of lentiviral genes products is in constant flux, achieving sufficient yield of lentiviral protein over time, but never remaining at cytoxic production rate for long enough to select for a cell response. This project will test the hypothesis that an engineered oscillation of lentiviral genes can extend the productive lifespan of a stable lentiviral packaging cell lines.

About the BBSRC Collaborative Training Partnership in Advanced Bioscience of Viral Products (ABViP)

This PhD studentship is part of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) in Advanced Bioscience of Viral Products (ABViP). The ABViP CTP is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary training programme designed to deliver the next generation of bioscience leaders who will advance research on the underpinning bioscience of viral products for future gene therapies and vaccines. Led by Oxford Biomedica and involving both UCL and University of Oxford, CTP students will have access to a wide ranging portfolio of training opportunities at the Partner sites including taught courses and case studies designed to complement the doctoral research. Students trained through the ABViP CTP will gain a holistic insight into the research and development activities required to develop the medicines of the future, with the ability to see the world of medicines development through both an academic and industrial lens. For more information about the ABViP CTP, please click on the following link.

A webinar will be held on Thu 13th January 2022 17.00 – 18.30 (GMT) which will introduce the ABViP Programme, introduce each of the projects and provide an opportunity to have your questions answered. The final 30 minutes of the webinar will be an opportunity for potential applicants to meet with current doctoral students at UCL and University of Oxford. To register for this webinar, please click here.

About the Department

This project is based in the Department of Biochemical Engineering at UCL, a world leader in bioprocess research creating novel engineering solutions to underpin future biomanufacturing processes. The Department of Biochemical Engineering represents one of the major bioprocessing groups in the world, where high-impact research activity is undertaken with a strong industry focus, linking advanced bioscience to an understanding of whole bioprocesses by which discoveries are translated into healthcare outcomes. The Department has superb facilities for biochemical engineering research with significant impact on the bioprocessing and biomanufacturing of cell and gene therapies, biologics, vaccines, oligonucleotides, regenerative medicines, high-value chemicals, pharmaceuticals and biomaterials. Researchers in our Department make use of the recent >£30m of investment in comprehensive and unique facilities including a fully equipped pilot-plant.

Additional information about research in the Biochemical Engineering department can be found here.

About Oxford Biomedica

Oxford Biomedica (OXB) is a pioneer of gene and cell therapy with a leading position in viral vector research and bioprocessing. Our mission is to deliver life-changing gene therapies to patients. OXB is an innovation and science focussed company which has developed a leading platform of novel technologies and capabilities. The OXB team provide design, development, bioprocessing and analytical development for gene-based medicines based on viral vectors, both for in-house products and for those developed with partner organisations. OXB has contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) capabilities thatsupport development of novel gene based medicines through all phases of clinical development to commercial manufacture. At Oxford Biomedica, we drive credible science to realise incredible results.

Entry requirements

A UK Master’s degree, or a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree, in a relevant discipline, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. We particularly welcome applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds, or via an unconventional career path. If you’re unclear as to whether you are eligible we would encourage you to submit an application regardless. You can also contact the project supervisor (see details below). To learn more about the policies in relation to diversity and inclusion at UCL, please click here for further information.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Dr Darren Nesbeth (E-mail d.nesbeth@ucl.ac.uk).

Funding

This BBSRC CTP ABViP Studentship is available to UK and Overseas (including EU) students. Full maintenance (stipend & fees) is available to UK and Overseas students for the duration of the four-year PhD. Note that up to a maximum of one fully-funded studentship allocation is available for Overseas students across the four UCL ABViP projects being offered in 2022/23. The annual tax-free stipend for the PhD studentship is £17,983 (estimated). More information for applying as an international student can be found by clicking on this link.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence

of an adequate level of English proficiency. The English language level for this programme is: Standard

Deadline and Application Process

BBSRC PhD Studentship in Real-time monitoring of viral vector product quality

Department of Biochemical Engineering, University College London in collaboration with Oxford Biomedica

Application Deadline: Fri 21st Jan 202 (12:00 midday GMT)

Project Start Date: October 2022

Project ID: ABViP 2022/3

Supervisors

Primary Supervisor:      Professor Paul Dalby

Secondary Supervisors: Dr John Hales

About the Project

New viral vectors for delivering gene therapies such as adeno-associated virus (AAV) continue to pose challenges in their manufacturing and formulation due to their instability.

The aim of this project will be to gain insights into capsid structure and function by studying capsid dynamics in different formulations and under different stresses.

You will have the opportunity to use decay-associated chromatography – an emerging analytical technology at the forefront of analytical science for viral vectors – in combination with cutting-edge biophysical techniques, including single-molecule FRET, dynamic light scattering, and ion-exchange chromatography.

About the BBSRC Collaborative Training Partnership in Advanced Bioscience of Viral Products (ABViP)

This PhD studentship is part of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) in Advanced Bioscience of Viral Products (ABViP). The ABViP CTP is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary training programme designed to deliver the next generation of bioscience leaders who will advance research on the underpinning bioscience of viral products for future gene therapies and vaccines. Led by Oxford Biomedica and involving both UCL and University of Oxford, CTP students will have access to a wide ranging portfolio of training opportunities at the Partner sites including taught courses and case studies designed to complement the doctoral research. Students trained through the ABViP CTP will gain a holistic insight into the research and development activities required to develop the medicines of the future, with the ability to see the world of medicines development through both an academic and industrial lens. For more information about the ABViP CTP, please click on the following link.

A webinar will be held on Thu 13th January 2022 17.00 – 18.30 (GMT) which will introduce the ABViP Programme, introduce each of the projects and provide an opportunity to have your questions answered. The final 30 minutes of the webinar will be an opportunity for potential applicants to meet with current doctoral students at UCL and University of Oxford. To register for this webinar, please click here.

About the Department

This project is based in the Department of Biochemical Engineering at UCL, a world leader in bioprocess research creating novel engineering solutions to underpin future biomanufacturing processes. The Department of Biochemical Engineering represents one of the major bioprocessing groups in the world, where high-impact research activity is undertaken with a strong industry focus, linking advanced bioscience to an understanding of whole bioprocesses by which discoveries are translated into healthcare outcomes. The Department has superb facilities for biochemical engineering research with significant impact on the bioprocessing and biomanufacturing of cell and gene therapies, biologics, vaccines, oligonucleotides, regenerative medicines, high-value chemicals, pharmaceuticals and biomaterials. Researchers in our Department make use of the recent >£30m of investment in comprehensive and unique facilities including a fully equipped pilot-plant.

Additional information about research in the Biochemical Engineering department can be found at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/biochemical-engineering/.

About Oxford Biomedica

Oxford Biomedica (OXB) is a pioneer of gene and cell therapy with a leading position in viral vector research and bioprocessing. Our mission is to deliver life-changing gene therapies to patients. OXB is an innovation and science focussed company which has developed a leading platform of novel technologies and capabilities. The OXB team provide design, development, bioprocessing and analytical development for gene-based medicines based on viral vectors, both for in-house products and for those developed with partner organisations. OXB has contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) capabilities that support development of novel gene based medicines through all phases of clinical development to commercial manufacture. At Oxford Biomedica, we drive credible science to realise incredible results.

Entry requirements

A UK Master’s degree, or a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree, in a relevant discipline, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. We particularly welcome applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds, or via an unconventional career path. If you’re unclear as to whether you are eligible we would encourage you to submit an application regardless. You can also contact the project supervisor (see details below). To learn more about the policies in relation to diversity and inclusion at UCL, please click here for further information.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Paul Dalby (E-mail p.dalby@ucl.ac.uk).

Funding

This BBSRC CTP ABViP Studentship is available to UK and Overseas (including EU) students. Full maintenance (stipend & fees) is available to UK and Overseas students for the duration of the four-year PhD. Note that up to a maximum of one fully-funded studentship allocation is available for Overseas students across the four UCL ABViP projects being offered in 2022/23. The annual tax-free stipend for the PhD studentship is £17,983 (estimated). More information for applying as an international student can be found by clicking on this link.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency. The English language level for this programme is: Standard

Deadline and Application Process

The deadline for submission is 12:00 midday on Fri 21st Jan 2022

To apply for this PhD studentship, you must submit a formal application to the Research Degree: RRDBENSING01 Research Degree: Biochemical Engineering course for 2022/23 entry through UCL’s application portal by the above deadline, including the Project ID in your cover letter. During the application process, please upload a 2-page CV. More information about the course and application process is available in the UCL Prospectus.

BBSRC PhD Studentship in Towards rapid, high-throughput and cost-effective evaluation of viral vector efficacy: Rapid image pattern analysis from microfluidic cell cultures using AI algorithms

Department of Biochemical Engineering, University College London in collaboration with Oxford Biomedica

Application Deadline: Fri 21 Jan 2022 (12:00 midday GMT)
Project Start Date: October 2022
Project ID: ABViP 2022/4 
Supervisors 
Primary Supervisor: Prof. Nicolas Szita 
Secondary Supervisors:     Dr Marco Marques, Dr Stephen Goldrick

About the Project
Lentiviral Vector (LV) manufacture is characterized by expensive development, resulting in high treatment costs of up to $500,000 per patient treatment. Monitoring of critical quality attributes during viral vector manufacture, such as  the infectivity of the vector, is vital. Current gold standards for viral vector titering rely on infectivity assays. They allow estimating the number of infectious particles contained in a sample through the infection of cells. Currently, these assays are carried out in micro well plates, thus limited to end-point monitoring through expensive processes. Furthermore, the liquid volumes are still large for high-throughput analysis, and automation capabilities are limited. To facilitate personalized gene therapy treatments and decentralizing manufacturing, a microfluidic device which operates with tiny volumes and which provides real time assay data was developed in our labs. 
In this project, the microfluidic device will be used to perform infectivity assays and bench-mark them against the industrial gold standard. The technology developed thus far uses a fluorescence approach to detect LV titer but new modalities can be implemented. Artificial Intelligence algorithms will be developed enabling automated infectivity assays. This will combine microfluidic technology with advanced image analysis routines and machine learning algorithms to allow the development of high throughput infectivity assays, laying the foundations for future work where this platform can optimally assess patient to patient variability of viral vector uptake.

About the BBSRC Collaborative Training Partnership in Advanced Bioscience of Viral Products (ABViP)
This PhD studentship is part of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) in Advanced Bioscience of Viral Products (ABViP). The ABViP CTP is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary training programme designed to deliver the next generation of bioscience leaders who will advance research on the underpinning bioscience of viral products for future gene therapies and vaccines. Led by Oxford Biomedica and involving both UCL and University of Oxford, CTP students will have access to a wide ranging portfolio of training opportunities at the Partner sites including taught courses and case studies designed to complement the doctoral research. Students trained through the ABViP CTP will gain a holistic insight into the research and development activities required to develop the medicines of the future, with the ability to see the world of medicines development through both an academic and industrial lens.

More information about the ABViP CTP

More information about the course and application process

Deadline and Application Process
The deadline for submission is 12:00 midday on Fri 21 Jan 2022

To apply for this PhD studentship, you must submit a formal application to the Research Degree: RRDBENSING01 Research Degree: Biochemical Engineering course for 2022/23 entry through UCL’s application portal by the above deadline, including the Project ID in your cover letter. During the application process, please upload a 2-page CV.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Prof. Nicolas Szita (E-mail: n.szita@ucl.ac.uk ).

Funding
This BBSRC CTP ABViP Studentship is available to UK and Overseas (including EU) students. Full maintenance (stipend & fees) is available to UK and Overseas students for the duration of the four-year PhD. Note that up to a maximum of one fully-funded studentship allocation is available for Overseas students across the four UCL ABViP projects being offered in 2022/23. The annual tax-free stipend for the PhD studentship is £17,983 (estimated)

English language requirements
If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency. The English language level for this programme is: Standard 

More information for applying as an international student

About Oxford Biomedica
Oxford Biomedica (OXB) is a pioneer of gene and cell therapy with a leading position in viral vector research and bioprocessing. Our mission is to deliver life-changing gene therapies to patients. OXB is an innovation and science focussed company which has developed a leading platform of novel technologies and capabilities. The OXB team provide design, development, bioprocessing and analytical development for gene-based medicines based on viral vectors, both for in-house products and for those developed with partner organisations. OXB has contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) capabilities that support development of novel gene based medicines through all phases of clinical development to commercial manufacture. At Oxford Biomedica, we drive credible science to realise incredible results.

Entry requirements
A UK Master’s degree, or a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree, in a relevant discipline, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. We particularly welcome applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds, or via an unconventional career path. If you’re unclear as to whether you are eligible we would encourage you to submit an application regardless. You can also contact the project supervisor (see details below).

Learn more about the policies in relation to diversity and inclusion at UCL


About the Department
This project is based in the Department of Biochemical Engineering at UCL, a world leader in bioprocess research creating novel engineering solutions to underpin future biomanufacturing processes. The Department of Biochemical Engineering represents one of the major bioprocessing groups in the world, where high-impact research activity is undertaken with a strong industry focus, linking advanced bioscience to an understanding of whole bioprocesses by which discoveries are translated into healthcare outcomes.  The Department has superb facilities for biochemical engineering research with significant impact on the bioprocessing and biomanufacturing of cell and gene therapies, biologics, vaccines, oligonucleotides, regenerative medicines, high-value chemicals, pharmaceuticals and biomaterials.  Researchers in our Department make use of the recent >£30m of investment in comprehensive and unique facilities including a fully equipped pilot-plant.

Additional information about research in the Biochemical Engineering department

A webinar will be held on Thu 13 January 2022 17.00 – 18.30 (GMT) which will introduce the ABViP Programme, introduce each of the projects and provide an opportunity to have your questions answered. The final 30 minutes of the webinar will be an opportunity for potential applicants to meet with current doctoral students at UCL and University of Oxford.

Register for ABViP webinar 13 January
    • ABViP 2022/1 - Next generation viral vector design via liquid machine learning reinforced with pan-omics – Dr Duygu Dikicioglu, Associate Professor in Digital Bioprocess Engineering, Dept of Biochemical Engineering
    • ABViP 2022/2 - The Viroscillator: oscillatory expression of lentiviral transgenes to extend productive life of stable packaging cells – Dr Darren Nesbeth, Associate Professor, Dept of Biochemical Engineering
    • ABViP 2022/3 - Real-time monitoring of viral vector product quality – Professor Paul Dalby, Professor of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Dept of Biochemical Engineerin
    • ABViP 2022/4 - Towards rapid, high-throughput and cost-effective evaluation of viral vector efficacy: Rapid image pattern analysis from microfluidic cell cultures using AI algorithms – Professor Nicolas Szita, Professor of Bioprocess Microfluidics, Dept of Biochemical Engineering

    Further information