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BBSRC PhD Studentship - Host-parasite interactions in African Trypanosomes

BBSRC-Funded 4-Year Targeted PhD Studentship

Supervisor: Dr Paula MacGregor, Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge

Project title: Host-parasite interactions in African Trypanosomes

Project Description:

Several trypanosome species are pathogens of humans and livestock in sub-Saharan Africa. Successful infection and transmission relies on the ability of the trypanosome to detect, interact with, and adapt to its environment. As extracellular parasites, the trypanosome cell surface acts as the molecular interface between the parasite and its external environment and functions in nutrient acquisition, signalling, and countering host innate and adaptive immune attack. While the major surface protein, the Variant Surface Glycoprotein (VSG), has been well characterised, considerably less is known about the non-VSG proteins on the trypanosome cell surface. Further, the protein composition at the trypanosome cell surface varies between species.

This project will involve the characterisation of novel bloodstream-stage Trypanosoma congolense-specific surface proteins that are hypothesised to play a role in host-parasite interactions. This work will inform how different trypanosome species are able to interact with their range of mammalian hosts through non-VSG surface proteins and how those interactions evolved.

This project is suitable for a candidate with an Honours Bachelors Degree (Minimum Class 2.1), or equivalent, in a relevant biological subject. A Masters degree, or equivalent experience, would be advantageous. The candidate should have an interest in molecular parasitology.

Funding Notes:

This is a BBSRC DTP Programme 4-Year Targeted PhD studentship (Research Theme: Agriculture and Food Security). The student must complete the programme in 48 months, commencing in October 2018. They will be part of an interdisciplinary cohort of students participating in DTP training courses and events. In addition to the primary PhD research, the student will complete two 10-week rotation projects (one in the MacGregor group) and a three-month internship.

The studentship will cover a stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£14,553 per annum for 2017/18), research costs and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate, and is available for UK and EEA students who meet the UK residency requirements.


Candidates should initially apply directly to Dr Paula MacGregor - Applications must include (i) A detailed CV, (ii) A cover letter, outlining motivation for the application and a description of any past research experience and future interests and (iii) the details of at least two references. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Selected candidates will be interviewed and the successful applicant will then be required to apply through the Department of Biochemistry Postgraduate Admissions Applicant Portal. Interviews will take place in December 2017.

Please quote reference PH13913 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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