Mosquito biting behaviour and arboviral transmission: interactions between intrinsic host preferences and local environmental conditions
(Co-supervisor: Dr Thomas Walker, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine).
All mosquito vector species can source their blood-meals from multiple host species. For example, Aedes aegypti (the principal dengue vector) famously shows extreme preference for human blood but adapts to environments with low human availability by obtaining blood from alternative host species. An important yet neglected aspect of vector-borne disease is how disease transmission is augmented by the behaviour of blood-feeding in response to the complex interplay between local ecological settings and intrinsic vector preferences for specific hosts. For example, halving human availability while maintaining the same level of alternative mammal species may not necessarily result in a halved proportion of blood-meals taken from humans.
The proposed PhD student project will produce data on how disease vectors functionally respond to interventions that operate by reducing human host availability. Through the analysis of blood-meals from A. aegypti and A. albopictus collected in a dengue-endemic region of Indonesia, and correlation of the species-level sources of blood with human availability, a dataset will be generated that is anticipated to have profound impact not only in the context of dengue control strategy, but also vector borne disease research in general. This data will then be integrated into mathematical models coupling insect behaviour with infectious disease (dengue, chikungunya) transmission. These models will be used to assess interventions and set target levels of control tool coverage according to findings of the empirical work.
Only UK, or non-UK resident EU nationals, are eligible for funding.
Applicants should be outstanding, highly motivated and have backgrounds in medical, biological or mathematical sciences.
Applicants interested in the full funding will have to participate in a competitive selection process.
Successful studentship applications will result in a student stipend of £16,057.
Applications must be submitted by 31st January 2016. Application details are found here: http://mrc-lid.lshtm.ac.uk/application-guidance-information/
This project can also be undertaken as a self-funded project, either through your own funds or through a body external to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Self-funded applications are accepted year-round.
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