Master´s Project: Development of a Hepatitis C Virus Vaccine hos Copenhagen Hepatitis C Program (University of Copenhagen & Hvidovre Hospital)

Master Thesis Project: Development of a Hepatitis C Virus Vaccine

Background: Each year, 2-4 million people become infected with Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). In 80% of cases, this results in chronic liver infection with >70 million chronically infected worldwide. Chronic infection can lead to liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure, resulting in 400.000 deaths per year. Recently, antivirals have been developed, but for various reasons only a vaccine will be able to combat HCV worldwide.

Project: Development of a whole virus inactivated HCV vaccine. You will work on a specific sub-project. Main focus areas include:

  • Unraveling the determinants of HCV immunogenicity. You will engineer HCV recombinants with different envelope proteins to enable definition of the “perfect” HCV antigen. These recombinants will be used to produce HCV particles for immunization of mice (mouse studies done in collaboration). Induced immune responses will be studied: Focus is characterization of HCV neutralizing antibodies and T cell responses.
  • Bioprocess optimization: To grow large quantities of HCV, we are optimizing large scale cell culture in bioreactors. To purify cell culture produced HCV, we are optimizing a downstream purification process.

Main Methods: Joining us, you will gain skills in: cell culture (including large scale cell culture in bioreactors), immunostaining, virus infectivity titrations, genetic engineering, cloning, PCR, RT-PCR, sequence analysis, virus purification techniques, viral inactivation protocols, neutralization assays, flow cytometry, ELISA.

Environment and Supervision: Our vaccine group consists of 3 PhD students, one PostDoc and Supervisor Associate Professor Judith Gottwein. We are based at Copenhagen Hepatitis C Program (CO-HEP), a joint venture between the Department of Infectious Diseases at Hvidovre Hospital and the Department of Immunology and Microbiology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. The project is mainly based at Hvidovre Hospital, while selected experiments are carried out at Panum. CO-HEP, directed by Professor Jens Bukh, provides a highly active and dynamic environment, comprised by close to 30 scientists, including Postdoctoral Fellows, PhD and Master´s Students.

Your qualifications: You should be studying Human Biology, Molecular Biomedicine, Biology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Biotechnology or a similar course of studies. You should be ambitious, highly motivated and engaged in your projects.

Your application: Contact, including a CV, and transcripts of your records.

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