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Vacancy PhD candidate ‘Mosquito immunity and arbovirus transmission’

For this project, we are recruiting 2 PhD students. We are looking for highly motivated PhD candidates with an MSc in Molecular Life Sciences, Biomedical Sciences or a related study with a strong background in molecular biology and a demonstrated interest in virology.

Job description

  • 36 hours a week
  • Temporary
  • 4 years
  • Date of publication: 30 January 2020
  • Deadline: 27 February 2020
  • Scale 10A: min € 2422 – max € 3103 gross per month at full employment (excl. vacation bonus and end of year payments)
  • First interview scheduled: 5 March 2020

Apply to job via website Radboudumc

Job description

Mosquitoes are vectors for transmission of important human and animal pathogens including viruses such as Dengue, Zika, West Nile and Usutu virus (arthropod-borne viruses, arboviruses). A large, multidisciplinary consortium in the Netherlands aims to understand the factors that contribute to the emergence of arboviruses and to prepare for potential outbreaks. Within this project, a total of 26 PhD students will perform their research projects, collaborate, and obtain training on diverse aspects of arbovirus emergence and preparedness.

For this project, we are recruiting 2 PhD students. We are looking for highly motivated PhD candidates with an MSc in Molecular Life Sciences, Biomedical Sciences or a related study with a strong background in molecular biology and a demonstrated interest in virology.

PhD project 1: Mosquito immunity in native and invasive mosquitoes
Mosquitoes lack the adaptive immune responses of vertebrates, yet they possess a sophisticated and complex immune response to pathogen infections. This immune response is a critical determinant for pathogen transmission by the mosquito (vector competence). In this project, we will study the immune responses of native and invasive mosquitoes (Culex pipiens and Aedes albopictus) to arbovirus infection, and how these responses affect pathogen transmission. Transcriptomic and functional studies in adult mosquitoes will be performed to define the activation of innate immune pathways and small RNA-based immunity. In addition, we will analyze how different temperatures, climatic conditions and other stressors after vector immunity.

PhD project 2: Modulating mosquito immunity
Like all multicellular organisms, mosquitoes have a resident microbiome and virome that may affect their immune system and therefore their ability to transmit viruses. This PhD project will identify resident insect viruses and bacteria in Dutch mosquitoes using sequencing and culture-based methods and analyze how these affect vector competence (the ability of a mosquito to transmit specific arboviruses). Moreover, newly identified insect-specific viruses will be used to modulate mosquito immunity as a potential approach to inhibit arbovirus transmission.

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