The Broadbent Lab aims to advance our understanding of the molecular basis underpinning the replication and pathogenesis of viruses that infect birds, in order to better prevent and control diseases of animals and people.
Current projects are focused on the Birnaviridae family, which are non-enveloped viruses with a segmented genome comprised of double-stranded RNA. The birnavirus, infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) is ranked among the top 5 infectious problems of poultry worldwide due to the morbidity and mortality it causes in chickens and due to immunosuppression that leads to reduced vaccine efficacy and increased susceptibility to secondary infections, including respiratory pathogens such as influenza viruses and coronaviruses, and gut infections such as E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter that are major food-borne pathogens in people.
The lab uses IBDV as a tool and a model, in order to:
1. Improve the control of poultry viruses- Improve the efficacy of current vaccines, improve the design of future vaccines, engineer or breed more resistant chickens
2. Model immunosuppression- Determine how immunosuppression in livestock impacts upon the pathogenesis, evolution & transmission of potentially zoonotic infectious diseases, define immunosuppression at mucosal surfaces, characterize the recovery from immunosuppression
3. Determine viral replication mechanisms- Define the nature of Virus Factories, characterize the host-cell antiviral response, determine the molecular mechanisms underpinning reassortment
4. Control disease in mammals, including humans- Determine the utility of avian viruses as vaccine vectors and in oncolytic viral therapy
We use a blend of in vitro cell culture, primary tissues and cells, and in vivo studies, and employ molecular biology, immunological, and bio- imaging techniques in the lab. Please get in touch if you are interested in opportunities to join the team.