UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering


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 2022
  • Application Deadlines: January 2023
  • Final interviews and appointments: mid-February 2023
  • Start Date: September/October 2023

Projects available

BBSRC PhD Studentship in Digital Twin supported development of viral vector production processes

Department of Biochemical Engineering, University College London in collaboration with Oxford Biomedica Application Deadline: Monday 9th January 2023 (12:00 midday GMT) Project Start Date: September 2023


Primary Supervisor: Dr Frank Baganz Secondary Supervisors: Prof. Volker C. Hass About the Project

The development of cell culture processes with complex dynamic behaviour requires high experimental effort, is time consuming and expensive. The concept of Digital Twins (DT), which are based on mathematical process models, offers the possibility for the effective use of these models for cell line specific process representation as well as process development and optimisation.

The project aims to design a framework for setting up scale down experiments suitable for the development of mathematical models representative of the viral vector manufacturing process. Dynamic models will be used for efficient design of scale-down experiments and parallel DT development. The models will be coupled with a process simulator to allow for enhanced testing, optimisation, and validation. To establish the new model-assisted Design of Experiments (mDoE)- and DT-based, cell line characterisation and process development methodology and validate its potential a representative viral vector production process will be used as a reference.

Initially, the process will be established and characterised. In parallel mathematical process models will be developed and used together with mDoE software for experimental design at small scale. The DT will be applied to quantitatively characterise the cell kinetics and then optimise the process. The project will yield a novel method to transfer quantitative biological knowledge about new cell lines into model-based strategies for process design, optimisation and scale-up.

About the BBSRC Collaborative Training Partnership in Advanced Bioscience of Viral Products (ABViP) Standard text for all CTP Projects – do not amend the text below

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 (OXB) and involving both UCL and the 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.

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.

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 the 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 apply 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 Frank Baganz (E-mail f.baganz@ucl.ac.uk).


This BBSRC CTP ABViP Studentship is available to UK and Overseas (including EU) students. Full maintenance (stipend & fees) is available to the 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 Department. The annual tax-free stipend for the PhD studentship is £20,198 (estimated value, confirmed annually, using in spring by UKRI and UCL).

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 Tuesday 31 January 2023.

To apply for this PhD studentship, you must submit a formal application to the Research Degree: Biochemical Engineering RRDBENSING01 course through UCL’s application portal by the above deadline. More information about the course and application process is available here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/research-degrees/bio...

  • ABViP 2023/1 - Cryogenic electron microscopy-based understanding of viral vector heterogeneity to aide process development - Prof. Dan Bracewell, Professor, Dept of Biochemical Engineering
  • ABViP 2023/2 - Repurposing an endogenous human mRNA transfer system as a gene therapy tool – Dr Darren Nesbeth, Associate Professor, Dept of Biochemical Engineering
  • ABViP 2023/3 - The establishment of high-titre, stable LV producer cells with high-level genome RNA - Dr Andrea Rayat, Associate Professor, Dept of Biochemical Engineering.
  • ABViP 2023/4 - T Digital Twin supported development of viral vector production processes – Dr Frank Baganz, Associate Professor, Dept of Biochemical Engineering.

Further information