Tackling a Global Health problem, control of ticks and tick-borne pathogens using anti-tick microbial vaccines


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Please note that applications are no longer being accepted for these positions

Ticks are parasites that feed on blood and can also act as disease vectors. In humans, ticks can cause paralysis and allergic reactions, and transmit several pathogens including the causal agents of Lyme Borreliosis. In animals, ticks are responsible for severe economic losses globally both through the direct effects of blood-feeding and indirectly by acting as vectors for a wide range of pathogens. Traditionally, chemicals have been used to control ticks and tick-borne diseases. However, this practice has led to the emergence of resistance in ticks and is not environmentally sustainable. It is becoming increasingly evident that tick microbiota plays an essential role in tick physiology and pathogen transmission.

The PhD students involved in this program will become experienced in artificial tick feeding methods and the use of this tool to manipulate the tick microbiota using genetic, genomic and transcriptomic methods.

Project goals

In order to develop alternate control strategies for ticks of global health significance using interdisciplinary and complementary expertise available in Australian and German laboratories, these projects aim to characterise the microbiota of multiple tick species of medical and veterinary relevance with the aim of developing vaccines that manipulate tick microbiota to control ticks and/or the transmission of tick-borne pathogens.

Supervision team

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  • Freie Universität Berlin: Professor Ard Nijhof

Who we are looking for

We are seeking a PhD candidate with the following skills:

  • A Bachelor of Honours or Master’s degree, qualifying for PhD studies, in zoology, biology, biotechnology or veterinary medicine/animal science.
  • Demonstrated experience in the field of parasitology, genetics and/or genomics.
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and as part of a team.
  • Demonstrated time and project management skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to write research reports or other publications to a publishable standard (even if not published to date).
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Demonstrated organisational skills, time management and ability to work to priorities.
  • Demonstrated problem-solving abilities.
  • Highly proficient in spoken and written English.

Further details

  • Two PhD projects are available. One candidate will be based at the University of Melbourne with a minimum twelve-month stay at Freie Universität Berlin. The Berlin University Alliance candidate will be based at Freie Universität Berlin and will spend a minimum of 12 months at the University of Melbourne.
  • The PhD candidate will benefit from the combined expertise of the project supervisors, and the embedding into two research environments.
  • Prof Abdul Jabbar at the University of Melbourne will contribute expertise in genetics and bioinformatics. Prof Ard Nijhof at Freie Universität Berlin will contribute expertise in the maintenance and in vitro experiments in ticks.
  • The candidate will be enrolled in the School of Veterinary Biosciences PhD program at the University of Melbourne and the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Freie Universität Berlin.

Please note that applications are no longer being accepted for these positions

First published on 11 July 2022.

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