Bioswitches: Novel infectious diseases test platform
University of Calgary - Calgary, AB

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Novel diagnostic platform for immediate detection of bovine infectious diseases.

Positions for a PhD student and/or a MSc student are available in the department of Production Animal Health at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary (UCVM). The cuttting-edge and multidisciplinary research in this dynamic department focuses on the most important diseases of domestic animals. We are currently looking students with strong skills or interest in molecular biology. This position is open for people holding a degree in biological sciences, animal sciences, veterinary, health sciences or equivalent degree. The candidate should have an appropriate problem solving attitude, good communication skills, and be willing and able to work in team as well as independently.

Inexpensive, user-friendly pen-side tests would strongly support the efforts to reduce entry and spread of production limiting diseases important to the dairy industry. Leukosis, Leptospirosis, Johne's disease and Neosporosis were chosen for the development of a novel diagnostic technology based on fusion proteins with unique characteristics. These proteins will be engineered to enzymatically produce a colorimetric output in the presence of pathogen specific antibodies. The objectives of this project are 1. to incorporate known antigens of bovine leukosis virus, Leptospira sp., M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis and Neospora caninum in these molecular serological test reagents called bioswitches; 2. to perform pathogen genome wide screens using the bioswitch technology to discover new antigens with added value; 3. to validate the resulting tests on serum and milk samples.
This project will deliver a new diagnostic platform with low production costs and unlimited expansion that is applicable to the detection of viral, bacterial and protozoal infections. The new pen-side tests will encourage more timely testing of new additions and more frequent monitoring of the entire herd and thus, improve decision making to control and manage production limiting infections diseases in the dairy industry.

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