Oxford Brookes University
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Department of Biological and Medical Sciences
3 Year, full-time funded PhD Studentship
Project Title: Leishmania attachment in the sand fly vector
Director of Studies: Dr Jack Sunter
Other supervisors: Prof Sue Vaughan
Background: Leishmaniasis is a devastating disease that affects millions of people around the world. The disease is caused by the Leishmania parasite which is transmitted through the bite of the sand fly; therefore, understanding the developmental cycle of the Leishmania parasite in the sand fly is critical to controlling the transmission of this disease. Leishmania is a unicellular flagellate parasite and in the sand fly the parasite has two forms â€“ free swimming or attached. The parasite attaches to the lining of the gut in the sand fly through its flagellum, forming a complex structure call an attachment plaque. Attachment is central to the biology of Leishmania yet we understand very little about the molecular underpinnings of this process.
Aim: This exciting project using cutting edge molecular biology and imaging techniques will unravel the regulatory pathway that controls differentiation from a free swimming to attached parasite.
We will mine a comparative proteomic screen to identify proteins upregulated in attached parasites. Then using CRISPR/Cas9 genome modification we generate Leishmania parasites expressing these candidate proteins endogenously tagged with fluorescent proteins. Advanced fluorescence light microscopy will then be used to identify those with a role in differentiation. The function of these proteins and others identified by bioinformatics will be analysed by generating deletion mutants using CRISPR approaches in combination with cutting-edge light microscopy and 3D electron microscopy approaches to define the points at which the mutants fail during differentiation.
Applicants should have a first or upper second-class honours degree from a Higher Education Institution or acceptable equivalent qualification in biological science or related discipline. Non-UK Applicants must have a valid IELTS Academic test certificate (or equivalent) with an overall minimum score of 7.0 and no score below 6.0 issued in the last 2 years by an approved test centre.
The studentship requires you to undertake 6 hours teaching per week during semester time.
How to apply: Applicants should email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application form.