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Organovir is an Innovative Training Network (ITN) that focuses on the use of organoid technology for viral pathogenesis studies and anti-viral testing. For this ITN we will provide 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) with the opportunity to be trained within a consortium of public and private experts that will enable them to lead innovation in the field of organoids for virus research. The starting date of the research projects is 1st of September 2019.

As an ESR with Organovir, you will be able to familiarize yourself not only with the scientific and technical aspects of innovative 3D culture systems for virus research, but also with the financial, commercial, ethical, communicative, policy and dissemination aspects enabling optimal valorisation of organoids. At the end of this project, you will hold a unique position within the European labour market. You can find more information about Organovir on our website. For our ITN we are looking for 15 highly motivated and talented Master students who are interested in a PhD in various disciplines. These disciplines are virology, biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, tissue engineering, life sciences, social sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, law, communications, economics, science ethics or business. You can find all the vacancies on our website.

The project that will be performed at the Virology Division of the Utrecht University is aimed at better understanding the interaction of respiratory viruses with their glycan receptors and how they navigate through the heavily sialylated mucus barrier overlaying the epithelial cells of the respiratory tract, focussing on influenza A viruses and enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68). Influenza A viruses infect birds and mammals such as swine and humans. They have sialic acid receptor-binding hemagglutinin (HA) and receptor-cleavage neuraminidase (NA) proteins. The functional balance between these proteins is thought to be important for host tropism and pathogenesis. This balance is, however, poorly characterized and molecular details are largely lacking. In this project, we will focus on the HA-NA balance of human and swine influenza A viruses and the importance thereof for host tropism, with particular focus on the interaction of these viruses with the heavily sialylated mucus barrier overlaying the epithelial cells of the respiratory tract. The HA-NA balance of human and swine viruses will be studied for different functional and decoy receptors including mucus by using innovative biolayer interferometry assays (Guo et al., PLoS Pathog. 2018. 14(8):e1007233).

EV-D68 is an emerging respiratory virus that is also associated with paralysis. It also relies on sialic acid to infect cells, but this non-enveloped virus lacks a receptor-destroying enzyme. Whether mucus enhances or inhibits infection of epithelial cells is unknown. The role of sialic acid receptors as well as protein receptors for infection will be studied as well as the identity of the cell types that are infected with different EV-D68 strains.

For this project, we will establish airway epithelial cell cultures, of human and swine origin, which will be used for infection studies and for harvesting of mucus. Mucus samples will be characterized in detail for their protein and glycan content, for their interaction with viruses and for their ability to inhibit virus infection.

Qualifications
Organovir is looking for research candidates who are highly motivated and enthusiastic with a flexible, pro-active team spirit and a recent Master degree in the field of biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, and/or virology. Interest and experience in molecular virology and air-liquid interface cultures of epithelial cells is an advantage. The candidate is required to be proficient in the English language and should be in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers. In addition, the applicant should not, at the time that he/she is selected by the host institution, have resided or carried out their work and/or studies in the country of the host institution for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment.

Offer
We offer a full-time position, initially for a period of one year with the perspective of prolongation with another three years. The gross monthly salary ranges from a minimum of €2,325 to a maximum of €2,972 (i.e. salary scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities) on a fulltime basis. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8,3%.

Utrecht University offers excellent secondary benefits including collective insurance schemes, an excellent pension scheme and flexible employment conditions. For more information: Working at Utrecht University.

About the organization
A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine has a unique position in the Netherlands. Not only is this the only institution where veterinarians are trained, researchers are also working together on innovative scientific research. In addition, the Faculty provides specialist clinical care in the largest academic veterinary hospital in Europe. Thanks to this position, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is a point of contact for all veterinary matters, both nationally and increasingly internationally. The Faculty employs approximately 900 veterinarians, scientists and support staff and counts 1,500 students.

The Virology division of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine studies various viruses (picornavirus, coronavirus, influenza) at the level of molecules, cells, tissues, and organisms, to unravel the structure of these viruses and to identify their cellular receptors, entry pathways, replication mechanisms, assembly and release pathways, immune evasion strategies, as well as the mechanism of disease caused by these viruses (i.e. pathogenesis). Furthermore, based on our intensive studies in glycans (e.g. sialic acids) as virus receptor, we have established strong scientific and technological expertise in the field of “glycovirology”. Our ultimate goal is to translate the knowledge that we obtain into the development of novel vaccines, antiviral therapies, and diagnostic tools.

Additional information
For more information, please contact C.A.M. (Xander) de Haan (Associate Professor) by c.a.m.dehaan@uu.nl or +31 30 253 4 19 or Frank van Kuppeveld (Professor), via f.j.m.vankuppeveld@uu.nl of + 31 30 253 41 73.

Please do not send your application letter to this e-mail address.

Apply
To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation via the website of Organovir.

The application deadline is
15/03/2019
Apply

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