The Biomedical Research Institute (BRI) invites applications from candidates with a PhD, MD or equivalent degree who have demonstrated significant research accomplishment and potential. Areas of interest include parasitology, microbiology, bacteriology and virology. Applicants whose research is dedicated to investigating neglected tropical diseases are especially encouraged to apply.
BRI is an independent not-for-profit organization which houses the NIH-NIAID Schistosomiasis Resource Center and the BRI Biorepository. In the 70 years since its founding, BRI has made seminal contributions to the laboratory maintenance of Schistosoma spp. life cycles; S. mansoni schistosomula ultrastructure; and cryopreservation techniques. BRI has supported schistosomiasis research through the distribution of schistosomiasis reagents and molecular products to investigators worldwide.
BRI is committed to supporting scientific research that will benefit communities impacted the greatest by infectious diseases. The current recruitment initiative aims to enhance our expertise in neglected tropical diseases and builds on BRI’s area collaborations with George Washington University, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the National Institutes of Health and industry partners.
BRI offers generous BSL-2 laboratory space and equipment, an AAALAC-approved animal facility and Institutional support.
Applicants are committed to establishing a rigorous and externally funded research program.
Applications consist of the following items, which should be communicated electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org
Review of applications will continue until the position is filled.
BRI is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer committed to fostering a diverse, equitable and family-friendly environment in which all faculty and staff can excel and achieve work/life balance.
Job location: 9410 Key West Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850
This joint PhD project will be based at the University of Melbourne, with a 12 month stay at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Supervision Team: Professor Rebecca Traub and Dr Vito Colella (University of Melbourne); Professor Gad Baneth (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Project description: Canine and feline vector-borne diseases (CVBDs) transmitted by ticks, fleas and biting-flies, are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in companion animals. Some of these pathogens are also responsible for several well-recognized infectious diseases that are capable of being transmitted to humans (termed ‘zoonoses’), throughout the globe. In recent years, CVBDs have emerged at accelerated rates owing to increased movement of pets, exacerbated by suboptimal efficacies of anti-parasite formulations, incursions of human dwellings into previously sparsely populated habitats, and climate change, that have permitted previously exotic vectors and their pathogens to establish in new environments. This has been particularly evident in Israel (Baneth et al., 2017) and more recently Australia (https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/ehrlichiosis). Although biosecurity pathways may appear rigorous, there are several limitations, including diagnostic, that impact on risk-mitigation strategies for exotic CVBDs entering Australia and Israel. Current diagnostic methods only target a limited number of specific pathogens and are unable to detect or identify the many exotic or novel vector-borne pathogens emerging at accelerated rates globally. Early detection and recognition of these pathogens is crucial to mitigate incursion and establishment of these VBDs in Australia and Israel.
The aim of this PhD project will be to:
1. Design a portable, metabarcoding diagnostic tool based on nanopore sequencing technology, capable of highly accurate, rapid and cost-effective detection and characterisation of all known canine, and feline vector-borne parasitic and bacterial diseases in real-time.
2. Validate the accuracy and precision of this metabarcoding diagnostic tool using positive-control samples or samples experimentally seeded with known quantities of targeted disease agents.
3. Verify and compare the diagnostic test parameters of the metabarcoding diagnostic tools to traditional ‘reference’ diagnostic assays using samples from ‘high risk’ Canidae and Felidae in Australia (feral dogs, feral cats, foxes) and Israel (stray dogs, wild foxes, wolves, jackals, and feral cats).
Aim 1 will be carried out by the PhD student at UoM under Prof Traub and Dr Colella’s guidance. Prof Traub’s laboratory has strong track-record and expertise in the development and validation of diagnostic assays, in particular, next-generation sequencing-based metabarcoding methods (mNGS) for pathogen detection (Huggins et al., 2019a, b; Huggins et al., 2020). Following completion of Aim 1 and part of Aim 2 (estimated 15 months), the student will be hosted by Prof Baneth’s group at HUJ for the next 12 months, as Prof Baneth’s laboratory has access to archived library of genomic DNA and clinical samples from a broad range of pathogens otherwise unattainable in Australia, where they will complete Aim 2 and part of Aim 3. The final 9 months of the PhD will be spent back in UoM completing Aim 3 (using archived samples at Prof Traub’s lab) and finalizing thesis submission.
How to Apply
Minimum entry requirements for a PhD at Melbourne are summarised here, including visa and English language requirements. For information on applying for this project, please see here. Applications should be sent to Professor Rebecca Traub.
Read the full project description online.