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Investigating the diarrhoeal pathogens in vulnerable populations in developing countries

Project Description

Project Aim:
This project will provide key data for understanding the prevalence, environmental loading and molecular characterisation of diarrhoeal pathogens in vulnerable populations in both Bangladesh and Thailand that will allow to develop diagnostics tools and policies for eliminating the spread of diarrhoeal diseases.

Project outline:
This PhD project will envisage bridging this gap through the first thorough investigation to uncover the pathogens reservoir and infection in both humans and animals in Bangladesh and Thailand. Among diverse areas and populations, we will collect samples from various urban areas of Bangladesh and Thailand including Slum populations and/or Rohingya refugees in these countries. This project will allow the PhD student to determine the causative agent and the source of diarrhoeal infections. The student will also use protocols that are currently being developed in the Tsaousis lab to establish new methods for early detection of these diseases, since it has been shown that timely detection of diarrhoeal agents drastically improves survival.

Project Objectives:
Using a multidisciplinary approach, the prospective PhD student will aim to answer fundamental questions concerning, source, transmission dynamics and prevention of diarrhoeal diseases in developing countries. By employing a combination of traditional and sophisticated modern techniques in the field and laboratory settings, the PhD student will tackle three major questions concerning diarrhoeal infections in Bangladesh and Thailand:
1. What is the prevalence, environmental loading and molecular characteristics of diarrhoeal-causing agents in vulnerable populations of Bangladesh and Thailand?
2. What is the source of infections in Bangladesh and Thailand? For example, there are Rohingya camps in both countries, both of which have hundreds of diarrhoeal cases on a daily basis: are these diseases due to the unhygienic conditions in the camps or have these refugees imported diseases from their country of origin? Or could they have acquired them during migration? What kind of preventions strategies (e.g policy) and tools should be put in place to avoid outbreaks of these diseases?
3. Which methods can be employed towards detecting diarrhoea agents in a timely manner, reducing transmission and eliminating disease spreading in urban areas?

This project will be jointly supervised by:
Dr. Anastasios Tsaousis (
Dr. Mark Shepherd (
Dr. Bansi Malde ( .
Prof. Md. Shahiduzzaman ( .
Dr. Eleni Gentekaki ( .

Informal enquiries can be addressed to Dr. Anastasios Tsaousis ().
Person specification:

• The successful candidate is expected to be a highly motivated, culturally sensitive individual with an interest in multidisciplinary research and global development challenges.

• Candidates will be expected to have obtained an undergraduate (BSc) degree at 2:1 or higher in Biosciences (or a related discipline), with some experience in molecular epidemiology. The equivalent from an internationally recognised institution is also acceptable.

• They will be expected to travel to Bangladesh and Thailand to collect samples and data and should be willing to do so.

• The project requires aptitude to learning epidemiology and statistics.

• The candidate will have access to a range of samples and should be able to work with large-scale data.

• The candidate should be keen to acquire a collection of strong skills (scientific, fieldwork, policy, networking, interaction in multicultural and developing country settings), which will be beneficial for their future career.

• This project will provide the candidate with broad, multidisciplinary scientific training.

• GCDC scholars are required to be based at the Canterbury or Medway campuses for the duration of their studies except for research-related overseas visits.

• The student will be expected to actively engage with the Global Challenges Doctoral Centre (GCDC) and participate in the Centre’s training and events throughout the duration of their PhD.

• The University of Kent requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. For more information on English language requirements, please visit:
How to apply
When applying, students should follow the University of Kent’s online application process.
The GCDC project page is now live on the Scholarships finder:

As part of the process, students should include the following:
- specify the project they wish to apply for;
- explain reasons for study;
- provide details/evidence of qualifications;
- provide two academic references;
- provide other personal information and supporting documentation.

Students need to apply for the PhD in Microbiology.
The interview will be held on Thursday, 6 February 2020
The deadline for this scholarship is midnight GMT on 19 January 2020.

Funding Notes

Annual tuition fees at UKRI Home/EU rates for 3.5 years (£4,327 for 2019/20) (A small number of fee waivers at the international rate will also available to international candidates, at the discretion of the awarding panel) plus annual stipend at UKRI rates (£15,009 2019/20)
This scholarship competition is open to all NEW postgraduate research applicants.


Recent relevant references:
Kotloff KL, et al . Burden and aetiology of diarrhoeal disease in infants and young children in developing countries (the Global Enteric Multicenter Study, GEMS): a prospective, case-control study. Lancet. 2013 Jul 20;382(9888):209-22.
Yowang, A., Tsaousis, A., Chumphonsuk, T., Thongsin, N., Kullawong, N., Popluechai, S. and Gentekaki, E. (2018). High diversity of Blastocystis subtypes isolated from asymptomatic adults living in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Infection, Genetics and Evolution [Online] 65:270-275.
Rana, M.S., Boby, F., Shahiduzzaman, M., 2017. Isolation and molecular identification of Cryptosporidium from human stool. International Journal of Natural and Social Sciences, 4(3): 58-62.
Khaleque, M.A., Boby, F., Shahiduzzaman, M., 2016. Molecular characterization of Cryptosporidium isolated from animal and human. Intl. J. Appl. Res. 2, 3, 172-176.

How good is research at University of Kent in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.20

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

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