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De Montfort University PhD Scholarships

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PhD Studentship: Development of broad-spectrum host-targeting antivirals against coronaviruses

Project description

The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for broad-spectrum antivirals, which can be deployed rapidly against coronaviruses and future emerging viruses. In this project, the successful candidate will work within a multidisciplinary team to identify and develop antiviral compounds against coronaviruses.

Viruses manipulate host pathways upon infection, activating cellular signalling pathways leading to changes in host cell protein phosphorylation. Kinases that regulate these pathways have been suggested to be important antiviral drug targets.

We have identified several kinase-targeting proteolysis targeting chimera (PROTAC) molecules that have anti-coronavirus activity. This project aims to take this further, to develop these PROTACs as pan-coronavirus inhibitors and investigate their mechanism of action using a combination of molecular biology and cell biology techniques.

This project provides a unique opportunity to work at the forefront of virology research, making important contributions towards understanding the fundamental aspects of coronaviruses, as well as having a positive impact on public health measures for infection control.

The successful candidate will based within the Leicester Institute of Pharmaceutical Innovation in the Leicester School of Pharmacy, with dedicated state-of-the-art facilities for undertaking the project.

The candidate will be supervised by Dr Maitreyi Shivkumar, and co-supervised by Dr Tim Snape, as part of an multidisciplinary research team, who will provide excellent training and support in scientific, technical, and transferable skills required to develop as a research scientist. Potential applicants can contact Dr Shivkumar or Dr Snape for any informal queries.

Techniques associated with the project

Cell and virus culture, molecular cloning, immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy, Western blotting, virus entry assays, drug inhibition assays, flow cytometry, transmission electron microscopy, NMR, medicinal chemistry.


DMU is offering a fully-funded 3-year PhD scholarship for this work, commencing on 1st January 2025. Tuition fees at Home level will be waived (international students will need to pay the difference between Home and International fees which is around £10k per year). The studentship comes with a stipend pegged at the UKRI rate, currently at £19,237 per annum.


Applicants must:

  • Possess a UK Honours degree in Biochemistry, Biomedical Sciences or related fields with at least an upper second class (or overseas equivalent), a Masters Degree in similar fields, or an academic or professional qualification plus experience in their sector or industry.
  • Be enthusiastic about the research topic.
  • Demonstrate the ability to clearly communicate complex ideas to a variety of audiences.
  • Be self-motivated and able to work independently and with a team.
  • Demonstrate competence in the use of the English language. Please see section 5b here for further details on meeting our English language entry criteria.

How to apply

This is a two-stage application process.

Stage 1: Please send the following documents to

Deadline: Friday 26 July 2024

Stage 2: Shortlisted candidates will be contacted to undergo an interview, and successful candidates will be contacted by Friday 9 August 2024 with a request to submit a full application through the DMU PGR Application Portal.

Deadline for full application: Friday 16 August 2024.

Scholarship letter will be issued by Friday 23 August 2024.


The AHRC-funded Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (M4C) brings together eight leading universities across the Midlands to support the professional and personal development of the next generation of arts and humanities doctoral researchers. M4C is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University, University of Warwick, Coventry University, University of Leicester, De Montfort University, Nottingham Trent University and The University of Nottingham.

Offering you cross-institutional supervision, training, mentoring and career support to ensure that you produce world-leading research and maximise your career potential. The Doctoral Training Partnerships awards IRO 80 PhD Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) studentships applicants each year.

Through the partnership we aim to deliver excellence in all aspects of research supervision and training. We will assist you in acquiring the best supervision for your field of research, you will have access to a wide range of facilities and support networks across our campuses.

See further information on the application process.

Alumni discounts

De Montfort University offers alumni discounts for students that have previously studied with us at undergraduate or taught masters degree level. This discount is available to Home and International Students. This discount is only available to new starters and will be automatically applied if you are eligible.

Home alumni discount is £500 per year (full-time equivalent).

International alumni discount is £2,000 per year (full-time equivalent).

Additional funding opportunities

Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future Fellowship 

Commonwealth Scholarships 

Amelia Earhart Fellowship 

Education Loans | Leicestershire | The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity

The Harry James Riddleston Charity

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