PhD Veterinary Sciences - Vaccine development
University of Calgary - Calgary, AB

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A position for a PhD student is 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 for a student with strong molecular skills and an interest to work with young dairy calves. This position is open for people holding a degree in biological sciences, animal sciences, veterinary or health sciences or equivalent degree. A DVM degree will be seen as a strong bonus but is not a strict requirement. 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.

Development of a marked live attenuated Johne's Disease vaccine strain.

Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (Map) is the causative agent of Johne’s disease (JD), a chronic progressive enteritis in ruminants with a high prevalence in Alberta and a significant economic impact on its dairy industry. The successful development of a Map vaccine would be a significant step forward, both nationally and internationally. Not only would a Map vaccine control animal disease and mitigate the corresponding economic losses, but it will also reduce the risk to humans due to transfer of infectious agents via food and water. In this project, we will take essential steps in the development of such a vaccine. Vaccination is not currently being used in Canada because available vaccines only protect against clinical disease but not against infection and because they interfere with the detection of M. bovis.
Our specific objectives are: 1) To create a live attenuated vaccine which establishes a short infection, while triggering protective immune responses at the natural site of infection. To achieve this, we will identify Map genes essential for persistent infection of dairy calves. Disruption of these genes will result in an attenuated Map vaccine strain. 2) To ensure easy discrimination between vaccinated and naturally infected animals, we will create immune markers in this Map strain. Potential markers will be tested in our calf infection model.

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