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Development diagnostic tests for babesiosis, a tickborne disease in Scotland

College of Medicine, Veterinary and Life Sciences

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Dr W Weir No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
Glasgow United Kingdom Bioinformatics Epidemiology Genomics Molecular Biology Parasitology

About the Project

This project is one of 19 four year PhD Studentships funded by Medical Research Scotland ( to be delivered jointly by the named University and External Partner Organisation (EPO). The Studentship will provide the first-class academic and additional training provided by the EPO needed to equip the successful candidate for a science career in an increasingly competitive market.

"Developing and applying technology to investigate babesiosis, an emerging disease in Scotland" to be delivered by the University of Glasgow [Supervisors: Dr Willie Weir (Division of Veterinary Pathology, Public Health and Disease Investigation, University of Glasgow), Dr Paul Capewell (Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow), Dr Claire Alexander (Scottish Microbiology Reference Laboratories, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde and University of Glasgow) and Dr Sally Mavin (Scottish Microbiology Reference Laboratories, NHS Highland)] and Moredun Research Institute ( [External Partner Organisation supervisor: Dr Frank Katzer].

We seek an enthusiastic individual with a veterinary, biomedical or biological background to undertake a joint PhD project between the University of Glasgow, The Moredun Institute and NHS Scotland. The project is focused on improving molecular diagnostics for babesiosis, an emerging tickborne parasitic disease of man. Although historically considered an animal disease, cases of human infection are increasing in both Scotland and England. Using a ‘One Health’ approach, this PhD studentship will develop new robust and reliable tools to detect babesiosis so that we can effectively monitor the disease in Scotland. Specific objectives are: (1) isolating zoonotic Babesia parasites from naturally infected livestock for whole genome and targeted antigen gene sequencing; (2) developing new serological assays (ELISAs) to detect exposure to different Babesia species and (3) assessing the risk associated with babesiosis in Scotland by screening a reference bank containing sera from people reporting tick bites.

The student will receive training in pathogen genomics and bioinformatics at the University of Glasgow. Supervisory staff are based in the School of Veterinary Medicine and the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine (IBAHCM), the ideal setting to train students at the interface of animal and human health. Generic research skills training will also be provided, including a wide range of statistical and informatic courses to complement the genomics training available in the lab. At the Moredun Institute, the student will gain experience of molecular skills including DNA extraction, purification, library preparation, PCR, molecular cloning and expressing fusion proteins in vitro. They will also develop serology-based skills including Western Blot to test for cross-reactivity of sera with recombinant proteins and ELISA development. The student will also spend periods of time embedded in NHS Scottish Microbiology Reference Laboratories in Glasgow and Inverness in order to apply the diagnostic tests developed in the course of this project.


Enquiries should be sent by email to Dr Willie Weir:

[Email Address Removed]


Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first or 2.1 UK honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK, in a veterinary degree, a medical degree or a related biological science degree.

Applications must be submitted online by logging in to the online application system at     

When submitting your online application, please provide a CV, the contact details of 2 or 3 referees (including email addresses) and a covering letter, explaining why you are applying for this particular project. Although requested by the University of Glasgow's postgraduate application system, a research proposal is not required.

Please note, your application may be shared with the funders and collaborators of this PhD Studentship, Medical Research Scotland, NHS Scotland and Moredun Research Institute.

Interviews are expected to take place 3-4 weeks after the closing date for applications. In light of the current coronavirus situation, interviews may be conducted by video conference/conference call.

It is anticipated that the PhD Studentship will start 1 October 2021.

Funding Notes

PhD Studentship provides: an annual tax-free stipend of £18,500, increasing to £19,000 over the four years; tuition fees at" Home or Scotland" or "Rest of UK" rates only; consumables; and generous travel allowance.
Only ‘Home or Scotland’ or ‘Rest of UK’ fees will be covered. EU and international students applying for the Studentship must provide evidence by the date of interview that they are able to finance the fee top-up required.

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