Characterising the relationship between hepatitis b virus (HBV) diversity, fitness and clinical outcome

Project Overview

In the context of a global burden of 290 million people with chronic HBV infection, urgent advances are required to increase our understanding of the biology of this complex virus, with the long-term aim of developing better monitoring, patient-stratified therapy and ultimately a cure.

We are working to develop insights into the relationship between HBV genetic diversity, viral fitness and outcome of infection in patients. Using virus harvested from patient samples, we will generate full length deep viral sequences to define viral diversity and genetic polymorphisms. Importantly, we will investigate the extent to which these clinical isolates can replicate in vitro using state-of-the art culture systems. Data from these experiments will provide a unique opportunity to link genetic polymorphism with replicative fitness of this virus and to determine the significance of drug resistance mutations. Associated clinical data will enable us link our in vitro observations with disease outcomes in the human host.

Training Opportunities

This project links two labs in Oxford working on inter-related questions regarding the biology and clinical outcomes of HBV infection, offering the benefits and opportunities of combined supervision and training from both groups. We have an active network of collaborators in viral hepatitis within Oxford and further afield, providing the opportunity for diverse experience. We are currently recruiting clinical cohorts locally as well as through collaborators in two centres in South Africa, providing opportunity for insights into different host populations and viral genotypes.

The projects will provide opportunities for training in approaches to next generation sequencing, data analysis and bioinformatics, in vitro viral replication assays and the development of close links to relevant clinical cohorts. We also anticipate excellent opportunities for training through publication and presentation, and attendance at local, national, and international meetings.


Immunology & Infectious Disease and Physiology, Cellular & Molecular Biology


Project reference number: 996

Funding and admissions information


Name Department Institution Country Email
Associate Professor Philippa Matthews FRCP FRCPath Experimental Medicine Division Oxford University, Peter Medawar Building GBR
Professor Jane McKeating NDM Research Building Oxford University, NDM Research Building GBR

There are no publications listed for this DPhil project.