- OldWivesAndVirologists has funding for a student or study to investigate viral seasonality and/or the biochemical phenomena that underlie it.
- £20,000 per year is available for one to three years.
- All options can be considered: a Ph.D. or master’s student, a post-doc, or funding for a particular project.
- In some countries additional funding will be required e.g. for wet-lab expenses. Such funding may need to be obtained from other sources.
- Projects should take into account recent observations on viral seasonality, including the analysis published by Patrick Shaw Stewart in Medical Hypotheses in 2016.
For information about viral seasonality please see
Shaw Stewart, Patrick D. “Seasonality and selective trends in viral acute respiratory tract infections.” Medical hypotheses 86 (2016): 104-119.
(A PDF is available: https://goo.gl/WexNkA )
For more information about funding and suggested lines of research please send a message to pshawstewart -at- gmail.com, or use the contact form (top right of this screen).
Suggested scientific approaches
I’m no expert but . . . . research into the seasonality of respiratory illness could be tackled at many levels of biological organization. For example:
- The effectiveness of advice to senior citizens could be tested. For example, seniors living in a cold climate could be advised to take vigorous outdoor activity, sufficient to cause sweating, while dressed in warm clothing, during the winter months.
- Experiments could be carried out with volunteers, with some participants being chilled and others not – this time relying on “wild” viruses that the volunteers happen to be carrying (rather than inoculating them with large doses taken from artificial laboratory or “pedigree” strains).
- Animal experiments with wild and labelled viruses could be carried out to investigate both the release and localization of virions in the respiratory tract, using temperature up- and down-shifts.
- The temperature-sensitivity of the various steps of cell entry and replication of both wild and laboratory viruses could be investigated using cell-cultures. Systematic investigation might give more insight than much of the data that is available now (most of which was collected by accident in studies that were designed to investigate something else).
- Experiments where populations of virions are divided into different categories based on their abilities to enter cells at different temperatures might give helpful insight.
- Experiments that follow viral RNA and protein production in cell cultures during temperature shifts might also be very interesting.
- The DNA and RNA sequences of wild and laboratory viruses (and also of viruses isolated in tropical and polar locations) could be analysed, focusing particularly on RNA secondary structure.
- Epidemiologists and bioinformaticians could investigate changes in sequences and virulence in a variety of viral species as they move around the world. We anticipate that this will need to be based on sequence motifs associated with temperature-sensitivity that are identified in lab experiments (it may be difficult to distinguish such motifs based on sequence data alone).