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  Preventing contagious ovine digital dermatitis: Characterisation of bacterial pathogens and development of disease control measures to prevent transmission in sheep

   Faculty of Health and Life Science

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  Dr J Duncan, Prof Nicholas Evans, Dr Joseph Angell, Dr Hayley Crosby-Durrani  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Contagious ovine digital dermatitis (CODD) is an infectious and severe cause of sheep lameness. It affects approximately half of UK sheep flocks, and is emerging globally. Due to its’ severity, CODD has a substantial and highly visible impact on sheep welfare. The economic consequences, and high levels of antibiotic use associated with disease control, negatively affect sustainability. Improved understanding of disease transmission and better preventative methods for CODD are top research priorities for the sheep industry.

The aim of this project is to inform and devise effective control methods for prevention of between and within farm transmission of CODD. This will be achieved through molecular characterisation of the key bacterial pathogens and microbiome analysis. The project will also involve designing and implementing a series on farm clinical trials to test therapeutic interventions. The student will gain experience with molecular biologists, pathologists, epidemiologists and veterinary surgeons and develop skills in the laboratory, in bio-informatics and on farm research. This diverse project will provide the student with the opportunity not only to understand disease processes at the molecular level but also apply that knowledge to devise and implement practical solutions.

The project is a CASE partnership with Menter a Busnes who support the development of sustainable farming in Wales. They will provide a bespoke training package for the student in a wide range of practical skills in the agri-food sector including business skills, project management, animal health, disease control and knowledge transfer. They will also provide routes to achieving impact for the student’s research work and access to their extensive network in the agri-food business. 

The studentship should be commenced before the end of 2022.


Applications should be made by emailing [Email Address Removed] with:

·        a CV (including contact details of at least two academic (or other relevant) referees);

·         a covering letter – clearly stating your first choice project, and optionally 2nd ranked project, as well as including whatever additional information you feel is pertinent to your application; you may wish to indicate, for example, why you are particularly interested in the selected project(s) and at the selected University;

·        copies of your relevant undergraduate degree transcripts and certificates;

·        a copy of your passport (photo page).

A GUIDE TO THE FORMAT REQUIRED FOR THE APPLICATION DOCUMENTS IS AVAILABLE AT Applications not meeting these criteria may be rejected.

In addition to the above items, please email a completed copy of the Additional Details Form (as a Word document) to [Email Address Removed]. A blank copy of this form can be found at:

Informal enquiries may be made to [Email Address Removed]. The closing date for applications is Friday 8th July 2022 at 12noon (UK time).

Note on English language requirements for international applicants: All students applying to the University of Liverpool must demonstrate that they are competent in the use of the English language and satisfy the University’s requirements. Please see this page for more details on specific requirements:

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

Funding Notes

CASE studentships are funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for 4 years. Funding will cover tuition fees at the UK rate only, a Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG) and stipend. We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK and are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme. Note that home (UK) candidates may also apply to this studentship.


Angell, J., D. Grove-White, and J. Duncan, Sheep and farm level factors associated with contagious ovine digital dermatitis: a longitudinal repeated cross-sectional study of sheep on six farms. Preventive veterinary medicine, 2015. 122(1-2): p. 107-120.
Angell, J., et al., Histopathological characterization of the lesions of contagious ovine digital dermatitis and immunolabelling of Treponema-like organisms. Journal of comparative pathology, 2015. 153(4): p. 212-226.
Duncan, J.S., et al., The dysbiosis of ovine foot microbiome during the development and treatment of contagious ovine digital dermatitis. Animal Microbiome, 2021. 3(1): p. 1-21.
Staton, G.J., et al., Contagious Ovine Digital Dermatitis: A Novel Bacterial Etiology and Lesion Pathogenesis. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 2021: p. 1013.
Staton, G.J., et al., Dissecting the molecular diversity and commonality of bovine and human treponemes identifies key survival and adhesion mechanisms. PLOS Pathogens, 2021. 17(3): p. e1009464.

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