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RVC PhD Studentship: Improvement of Eimeria parasites in vitro culture for host-parasite interactions studies


London United Kingdom Cell Biology Genetics Genomics Livestock Farming Molecular Biology Other Parasitology Pathology Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Pathology

About the Project


Department: Pathobiology and Population Sciences

Non-RVC Supervisors: Dr. Anastasios Tsaousis


Project Summary:

Seven species of the genus Eimeria (apicomplexan parasites) cause chicken coccidiosis, a costly disease resulting on a reduction of animal performance and welfare. Research into Eimeria species relies heavily on the use of experimental animals due to the lack of in vitro long-term cell culture systems, which is directly related to the complexity of the life cycle of these parasites. However, some in vitro work has allowed the generation of new knowledge about the early stages of Eimeria development. In this project, we propose to conduct a large-scale systematic investigation into the potential use of newly available cell lines and 3D systems for cultivation to improve current in vitro systems for the life-cycle development of Eimeria tenella. In addition, selected cell lines will be used to validate the role of host proteins previously identified as ‘hubs’ in protein interactions networks by a ‘multiomic’ approach. Coding genes for these proteins will be knocked-out (by CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing) or knocked-down (by RNA silencing) to generate important knowledge regarding the host-pathogen interactions in an in vitro system.




  • Must meet our standard PhD entry requirements
  • Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree in an appropriate subject (e.g. biology, biochemistry, infectious diseases, immunology, veterinary medicine, bioveterinary sciences)


  • A master’s degree or equivalent qualification or other evidence of research skills and experience is preferred but not essential.


Eventual work with animals (chickens) will be necessary for the generation of wild type and transgenic parasite stocks for the development of the main in vitro work.

This is a 3 year fully-funded studentship, open to Home applicants. International and EU students are welcome to apply but must be able to fund the difference between Home Fees and the international tuition fees.

The studentship will commence October 2021.

If you are interested in applying for this position, please follow the link below. Please use your personal statement to demonstrate your background in cell/molecular biology, parasitology, genetics or equivalent disciplines. We are looking for a highly motivated and enthusiastic PhD student showing commitment, team working and the ability to take responsibility for her/his own project.

The student will receive training from the supervisors at RVC in the different techniques needed for the development of the research programme. Furthermore, the student will benefit from the RVC transferable skills training programme. This consists of a wide range of courses that will help to analyse, understand and communicate their research.


How to Apply

For more information on the application process and English Language requirements see How to Apply.

Interviews will take place March 2021.

We welcome informal enquiries - these should be directed to Dr. Virginia Marugan-Hernandez: 

Funding Notes

This is a 3 year fully-funded studentship, open to Home applicants. International and EU students are welcome to apply but must be able to fund the difference between Home Fees and the international tuition fees.


1. Tierney J, Mulcahy G. Comparative development of Eimeria tenella (Apicomplexa) in host cells in vitro. Parasitol Res. 2003 Jul;90(4):301-4. doi: 10.1007/s00436-003-0846-1. Epub 2003 Apr 1. PMID: 12684886.

2. Marugan-Hernandez V, Jeremiah G, Aguiar-Martins K, Burrell A, Vaughan S, Xia D, Randle N, Tomley F. The Growth of Eimeria tenella: Characterization and Application of Quantitative Methods to Assess Sporozoite Invasion and Endogenous Development in Cell Culture. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2020 Oct 8;10:579833. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2020.579833. PMID: 33154954; PMCID: PMC7590826.

3. Miller CN, Jossé L, Brown I, Blakeman B, Povey J, Yiangou L, Price M, Cinatl J Jr, Xue WF, Michaelis M, Tsaousis AD. A cell culture platform for Cryptosporidium that enables long-term cultivation and new tools for the systematic investigation of its biology. Int J Parasitol. 2018 Mar;48(3-4):197-201. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2017.10.001. Epub 2017 Nov 28. PMID: 29195082; PMCID: PMC5854368.

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