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Advancing a Single Cell-Approach to Understand Metazoan Parasitism

Project Description

Parasitic worms infect one third of the human population, causing staggering levels of morbidity. They also blight food production systems by undermining plant and animal health globally. In human and animal hosts, their manipulation of host immune function undermines vaccine development and available drugs have falling efficacy in the face of drug resistance, exposing a situation that is unsustainable unless improved control strategies emerge. For the first time, in 2018, Fincher et al. reported the genes being expressed in every individual cell of an entire metazoan animal, generating a cell-based transcriptomic atlas for a free-living flatworm. This work provides a blueprint for a new approach to metazoan biology that allows single-cell data to support a better understanding of complex living systems. This project will exploit new single-cell transcriptome data for liver fluke to drive predictions of cell functions that support growth and virulence. This project will then test these predictions/hypotheses using robust functional genomics tools and diverse bioassays we have developed for juvenile liver fluke. By interfacing single cell sequence data with the molecular tools at our disposal, this project will enhance understanding of selected parasite cells, particularly stem cells, and drive new drug target discovery and validation pipelines for parasite control.

This project will be supervised by Professor Aaron Maule (Queen’s School of Biological Sciences), Dr David Simpson (Queen’s School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences), and Dr John Harrington (Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health).

Start Date: 1 October 2020
Duration: 3.5 years

Funding Notes

The studentship will be funded by the Department for the Economy (DfE). Please read the full information on eligibility criteria: View Website

However, there may be flexibility to fund a small number of exceptional International applicants.

How good is research at Queen’s University Belfast in Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 29.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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