Supervisors: Dr. Androniki Psifidi (RVC), Prof. Georgios Banos (University of Edinburgh) and Dr. Ankit Hinsu (RVC) 

Department: Clinical Science and Services 

Project Details

Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a diverse class of RNA molecules that exceed 200 nucleotides in length but lack protein-coding potential. Despite their lack of translation into proteins, lncRNAs exhibit remarkable regulatory capabilities, influencing gene expression and cellular processes. These molecules interact with various cellular components, including DNA, RNA, and proteins, modulating gene expression at multiple levels – transcription, splicing, and translation. LncRNAs play crucial roles in a wide range of biological processes, including cell development, cell differentiation, metabolism, and immunity. LncRNAs are also involved in pathogen recognition and response, interacting with pattern recognition receptors to trigger the production of interferons and other inflammatory mediators, ultimately leading to immune cell activation and pathogen elimination. Furthermore, lncRNAs regulate the expression of genes involved in antigen presentation and the maturation of immune cells, essential components of adaptive immunity. 

In this project will focus our study to the immune response to an important viral pathogen, Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV) in chickens. Total RNAseq data has been already generated from 140 African chickens and relevant immunological phenotypes including antibody levels for NDV in different timepoints have been recorded for each individual bird. The data will be used to identify lncRNAs in spleen and gut tissues of these birds, and then characterise the differential expression of lncRNAs between birds with high and low NDV levels using relevant bioinformatic tools. The role of candidate genes and lncRNAs will be determined by performing gene set enrichment analysis and their expression levels will be validated using qRT-PCR and other wet-lab techniques. The successful candidate will develop cutting edge bioinformatics and wet-lab skills. The results of this study will provide novel insights into the role of lncRNA and will identify the transcriptional changes involved in the immunological response of chickens. The results will be published in the scientific literature and presented in scientific conferences for wider impact and dissemination.  


  1. Hu G, et al. J Immunol. 2016;196(6):2799-2808. DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.1502146 

  2. You Z, et al.  BMC Genomics 2019;20:245. DOI: 10.1186/s12864-019-5625-1 




  • Previous experience of statistical analysis and use of R would be desirable but not essential.  
  • Previous wet-lab experience would be also desirable.  

This can be taken full-time or part-time (12months FTE) project commencing in October 2024, based at RVC's Hawkshead campus. 


Partially fundedThe total RNA Seq data has been already generated and it is available for this project; wet-lab consumables will be covered by the supervisors. The MRes student will be expected to meet the course fees and their living expenses. 

International applicants are welcome to apply but must be able to fund the difference between "Home" and "Overseas" tuition fees. Please note that EU/EEA and Swiss national students may no longer be eligible for the “Home” rate of tuition fees, dependent on personal circumstances (including immigration status and residence history in the UK) and UK government rules which are currently being developed. For up-to-date information on fees for EU/EEA and Swiss national students following Brexit please see our fees and funding page. 

How to Apply

For more information on the application process and English Language requirements see How to Apply.

Deadline: 1pm UK time, Friday 5th April

We welcome informal enquiries - these should be directed to Dr. Androniki Psifidi (

Interview date and location: TBC

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