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  FULLY FUNDED PROEJCT - High-resolution molecular approaches to tracing Cryptosporidium transmission and virulence in cattle

   College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences

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  Dr Emily Hotchkiss, Dr James Cotton  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project


Summary of project

Cryptosporidium parvum is one of the most important zoonotic parasites globally. As well as being a leading cause of death due to infant gastroenteritis in developing countries, cryptosporidiosis is one of the main causes of diarrhoea in young ruminants and thus has a huge impact on calf health and production. There are currently no vaccines and the lack of satisfactory therapeutics for bovine cryptosporidiosis means that a better understanding of transmission to inform management practice is critical in controlling disease.

Molecular approaches are widely used for typing, but the lack of a standardised, highly discriminatory approach has hindered studies of transmission and virulence. In this project, the student will generate novel clinical and epidemiological data from a cohort of calves and dams from livestock farms around Scotland.  We then plan to use whole-genome sequence data to aid understanding of C. parvum transmission within these farms, and to identify differences in virulence between genotypes.

Aims & Objectives 

1.     Evaluate different ‘genomic’ approaches to C. parvum genotyping in the context of monitoring infections in young ruminants.  

2.     Understand within-herd diversity and transmission of C. parvum oocysts.  

3.    Understand how genotypic diversity may affect clinical outcome in calves. 


In this inter-disciplinary project, the student will receive training in molecular biology, bioinformatics and population genetics. Basic epidemiological principles such as observational study design and analysis will be integral to the studentship, resulting in a student with an extensive repertoire of transferable skills. The student will join the School of Biodiversity, One Health and Veterinary Medicine (SBOHVM), which is home to researchers with a range of expertise relevant to this project in genetics and genomics, epidemiology and disease ecology, parasitology, animal physiology and veterinary medicine. There is also a strong broader community of parasitologists at the university. SBOHVM is home to a large and vibrant community of postgraduate research students with extensive opportunities for training and outreach and a busy social scene.

Applicants must qualify as a Home student and have obtained, or be about to obtain, a first or upper second-class UK honours degree in an appropriate area of science, such as veterinary medicine, veterinary biosciences, molecular biology or a related field. A Master’s level qualification and/or post-graduate experience in a relevant field is advantageous, but not mandatory. The ideal candidate will demonstrate an ability to undertake the practical and theoretical aspects of the project. A basic understanding of molecular biology techniques is a plus, but not required.

As part of the application, please include a CV detailing your relevant education and experience and a cover letter describing your research experience, interests, and motivations for applying to this position. Interviews are expected to take place 3-4 weeks after the closing date for applications.

It is anticipated that the PhD Studentship will start on the 7th October 2024.

Agriculture (1) Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26) Veterinary Sciences (35)

Funding Notes

This award covers stipend for 3.5 years. The starting stipend is £23,845 pa tax free for veterinary graduates or £19,162 (24/25 UKRI rate) for non-veterinary Graduates.