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Detecting, diagnosing and disrupting schistosomiasis.

   Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS)

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  Prof K Hoffman, Dr J Hamilton, Dr Laura Braun, Dr Rhys Jones  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

In 2021 at least 251.4 million people required preventative chemotherapy for schistosomiasis (WHO 2023), an acute and chronic debilitating disease caused by parasitic schistosomes. Schistosomiasis control requires an integrated approach but is currently heavily dependent on a single drug, praziquantel, for mass drug administration (MDA) programmes. In February 2022, WHO published six new recommendations for the global public health strategy against schistosomiasis, including the expansion of preventative chemotherapy to all age groups (recommendation 1) to reduce morbidity (recommendation 4), lowering the threshold for annual preventative chemotherapy and increasing frequency of treatment for some populations (recommendation 3). For endemic countries with schistosome infection <10% WHO recommended a test-and-treat clinical approach instead of preventative chemotherapy (recommendation 2). Furthermore, WHO also recommended water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions, environmental interventions (water engineering and focal snail control) and behavioural change interventions (recommendation 5). For communities approaching the interruption of transmission, WHO recommends a verification framework of testing for schistosome infection in humans, snails and non-human mammalian hosts with diagnostics that have high sensitivity and specificity (recommendation 6, Lo et al., 2022).

Our One Zoo CASE project proposal brings together a supervisory team to address these WHO recommendations: we have core expertise in translating medical research (CASE partner LifeArc, Peter Wasson), development of clinical diagnostics for schistosomiasis (Peter Chiodini [HTD], Jo Hamilton and Karl Hoffmann, AU), use of environmental DNA for the detection of molluscan intermediate hosts (Rhys Jones, AU) and WASH interventions for the disruption of schistosomiasis and improvement of child health in endemic countries (Laura Braun, LSHTM). Our proposal builds on current collaborations with LifeArc and HTD and offers an integrated approach to the disruption of schistosomiasis transmission.  

Our OneZoo PhD student and supervisory team will co-create a research programme focussing on the development of low-cost molecular approaches to detect schistosomiasis, including environmental detection of the intermediate snail host, improvement of existing clinical diagnostics and strategic deployment of WASH initiatives to disrupt disease transmission. Our OneZoo student will gain at least three months experience working with the diagnostic team at LifeArc and will also visit the HTD in London to develop skills in clinical diagnosis.

Studentship Information

The studentship will commence in October 2023 and will cover tuition fees (for both UK and international applicants) as well as providing a maintenance grant. In 2023 the maintenance grant for full-time students was a minimum stipend of £17,668 per annum. As well as tuition fees and a maintenance grant, all students receive access to OneZoo training and additional courses offered by Aberystwyth University’s Graduate School.

A very high standard of applications is typically received, the successful applicant is likely to have a very good first degree (a First or Upper Second class BSc Honours or equivalent) and/or be distinguished by having relevant research experience.

How to apply:

You can apply online - consideration is automatic on applying for a PhD with an October 2024 start date.

Please use our online application service at:

How to apply : Study With Us , Aberystwyth University and choose Aberystwyth University - Biological Sciences C1250 PhD

Please specify in the funding section that you wish to be considered for UKRI OneZoo funding.

Please specify that you are applying for this particular project and name the supervisor.

Information on the application process can be found here How to apply : Study With Us , Aberystwyth University

If not successful in being shortlisted for this particular studentship you could be considered for other studentships within the OneZoo program, please see the full list here: OneZoo

Application deadline:

1st May 2023 with interviews (either in person or online) being held on or around end of May and decisions being made by June 2023 for a 1st Oct 2023 start.

General Information

Our transdisciplinary OneZoo CDT will equip the next generation of world-leading scientists with the skills and insight necessary to tackle current and future zoonotic threats. To design successful, innovative environmental prevention and control strategies, zoonotic drivers need to be understood through an integrated approach. As part of the OneZoo program you will build an in-depth understanding of the connectivity between key drivers of pathogen host shifts, spillover and onward transmission; exploring pathogen, environmental and human societal processes that can promote zoonotic disease and form the basis of integrated solutions. Our award-winning educators and experts in zoonotic diseases and environmental sciences, from Cardiff University, Aberystwyth University, Queen’s University Belfast, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, will work collectively, fostering creation of the OneZoo research community, and empowering students to develop their own training to acquire strong employability skills. This CDT offers an unprecedented level of diversity and transdisciplinarity.

Aberystwyth University:

The Department of Life Sciences is an internationally-recognised research and teaching centre providing a unique base for research in response to global challenges such as food security, bioenergy and sustainability, and the impacts of climate change. Our experts conduct research on genes and molecules, whole organisms and the environment.

Work within our research groups is focused on a number of interrelating areas: Integrated Animal and Human Health, Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, Sustainable Agriculture and Healthy Food, Exploring and Conserving Biodiversity.

Funding Notes

This studentship is open to Home, EU or international students. The award offered will cover Home, EU or international fees and a maintenance stipend. International/EU candidates are welcomed.
Please note we are limited to 6 studentships available for international/EU applicants that can cover full fees.
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