UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health


Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health


3-year PhD Studentship in III, GOS ICH

Genomic Revolutions in Donation Screening and Safety (GRiDSS) – Exploring Host-viral factors associated to viral transmission and disease in organ transplant recipients

A 3-year PhD Studentship funded by NIHR, is available in the Infection, Immunity and Inflammation Research and Teaching Department, Great Ormond Street UCL Institute of Child Health. The studentship is available to start between April-October 2023 under the supervision of Prof. Judith Breuer and Dr Oscar Torres (GOS ICH, UCL) and Dr Ines Ushiro-Lumb (NHS Blood and Transplant).

This project will investigate the presence and transcriptional activity of viruses in a range of human tissues and organs using untargeted metagenomic, metatranscriptomic and proteomic approaches. The performance of agnostic metagenomic sequencing will be compared to methods using targeted enrichment panels and both approaches will be assessed for their analytical sensitivity and specificity. Long read workflows (Oxford Nanopore) will be developed and evaluated too. Prospective studies will be performed using a combination of metagenomics, transcriptomics and proteomics approaches on donor/recipient samples to better understand the viral dynamics and host responses that determine the different outcomes on patients after transplantation.

The project will address major gaps in understanding of the transmission risk of cell-associated viruses, health impacts and prevention or mitigation through donor/recipient matching.

  • Wet-Lab: Training in molecular biology and biochemical methods. Use of different NGS platforms (Illumina, Oxford Nanopore) and proteomics.
  • Bioinformatics: Acquisition of expertise in metagenomics, transcriptomics and proteomics data analysis.
  • Shared working with other PhD/MPhil students in the wider programme investigating a range of other aspects of transfusion-related microbiology
  • Programmes of presentations, seminars and attendance at national and international scientific meeting to present research findings
  • Working within a combined University / NHSBT environment, the latter providing knowledge of how a large scale, healthcare-based service provider works and delivers to patients and the donor community. 

The student will receive a starting stipend of £20340 per annum (including London weighting) as well as the cost of tuition fees based on UK fee status. 


Personal Specification

Applicants should have a good first degree (UK 1st class or upper 2nd class honours degree or equivalent from abroad) and a master’s degree is desirable (or equivalent work experience) in biomedical sciences/Life sciences degree with experience in molecular biology, biochemistry or microbiology methods.



This studentship covers the cost of tuition fees based on the UK (Home) rate.  Non-UK students can apply but will have to personally fund the difference between the UK (Home) rate and the overseas rate where they are not eligible for UK fee status.

NB: You will be asked about your likely fee status at the interview so we would advise you to contact the UCL Graduate Admissions Office for advice should you be unsure whether or not you meet the eligibility criteria for Home fee status.  Further information on Brexit and the definitions for fee status assessment can be found on the UCL website and also the UKCISA website (Higher Education: Definitions for fee status assessment).



To apply, please send a current CV including the contact details of two professional referees as well as a cover letter to ich.iii.programme@ucl.ac.uk. Students should contact Prof. Judith Breuer (j.breuer@ucl.ac.uk) and Dr Oscar Torres (oscar.torres@ucl.ac.uk) to discuss their interest.

Applications are also welcome from students who may be graduating in Summer 2023.

Deadline for receipt of applications: 17th February 2023

Interview date:  To be confirmed