The animal pathogen Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) has been associated with several chronic human health conditions (Crohn’s disease, Type 1 Diabetes mellitus, Multiple sclerosis and Sarcoidosis) in recent years. However, the main difficulty in elucidating the role of MAP, if any, in these conditions continues to be the inability to demonstrate the presence of this bacterium in patient samples due to limitations of existing diagnostic methods. Whilst significant advances have been made in Professor Irene Grant’s laboratory at Queen’s University Belfast to improve detection methods for MAP, there are still more avenues to explore, particularly in relation to speeding up culture of MAP (required to obtain isolates for epidemiological investigation) and further developing phage-based, antibody-based or DNA-based methods. Exploring the biology of MAP will be a key first step to informing development of future diagnostic tests that could be applicable in both the human and animal health contexts. The PhD project is likely to involve mycobacterial culture, molecular biology, epitope mapping, and bacteriophage propagation/characterization.
Specific skills/experience required by applicants:
Good microbiology skills essential. Some molecular biology (PCR, qPCR, DNA extraction) and bacteriophage experience desirable.
UK and EU students are eligible to apply. Information on eligibility criteria is available from DfE: View Website
International applicants are welcome to apply, as additional funding may become available to cover fees at the higher rate.