PhD Position at the Institute of Parasitology

  • Universitätsspital Basel
  • Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 16/08/2021
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Job Description

The Institute of Parasitology Bern carries out research on parasitic diseases of domestic and farm animals, and of humans, and is involved in teaching and diagnostic services and consulting.
In terms of research, we focus on the study of pathogenetic processes that occur during parasitic infections, as well as on the development of new therapeutic approaches. The main topics of interest are zoonotic helminthiases (echinococcosis, fasciolosis), and abortion-causing protozoans (neosporosis, toxoplasmosis, tritrichomonosis). More information can be found under the following link: https://www.ipa.vetsuisse.unibe.ch/index_eng.html.

Background of the project: Alveolar echinococcosis (AE) caused by the cestode Echinococcus multilocularis (small fox tapeworm) is the highest ranking foodborne parasitic zoonosis in Europe. The metacestodes (larval stage) of E. multilocularis grow mainly in the liver in a tumor-like and infiltrative manner, and frequently form metastases in other organs. AE occurs in humans, dogs, monkeys and other mammals, and causes death if left untreated. AE cannot be cured by medication, as the current drugs in use are parasitostatic and do not kill the parasite. For these reasons, novel chemotherapeutical treatment options are urgently needed.
We have developed in vitro culture of the larval stage of the parasite as a highly valuable alternative to the animal model. In vitro culture is applied for in vitro drug screening and investigations on the mode of action of drugs, as well as for answering basic, cellular and molecular biological questions. These analyses are complemented with transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic analyses. Our research has been focusing on the mitochondrial energy metabolism of the parasite and the host-parasite interaction.

Project: Energy generation is central for each organism, also for the fox tapeworm. Interestingly, this parasite does not only generate energy via glycolysis, citric acid cycle and electron transfer chain (ETC) and oxidative phosphorylation, but also by alternative pathways such as, most prominently, the malate dismutation (MD), which is unique to helminths. Within the proposed project, (i) already identified ETC inhibitors will be further investigated on the molecular level, (ii) MD inhibitors will be identified by in vitro screenings and characterized by metabolomic and proteomic approaches, and (iii) the functional dependence between ETC and MD will be analyzed.

Requirements

We therefore offer from October 1, 2021, or by appointment, a PhD position.
The PhD candidate should fit the following profile:

  • Master in natural sciences, veterinary or human medicine
  • High interest in parasitology, biochemistry, cell biology, data analysis
  • Team player
  • Extensive experience with cell cultures, molecular biological and biochemical methods
  • Basic knowledge in biostatistics
  • Work with laboratory animals
  • Good German and English skills
  • Highly motivated, perseverant, curious, creative

We offer

Young, enthusiastic team

  • Close collaboration within the team and other members of the Intitute
  • Established parasitological, cell biological, molecular biological and biochemical methods
  • PhD Students will be part of the Graduate School of Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (http://www.gcb.unibe.ch)
  • Funding through a project financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) with national and international collaborations
  • Salary calculations following the guidelines of the University of Bern and the SNSF

Applications (cover letter, CV, records, references) should be submitted as a single PDF document to Barbara Gautschi (barbara.gautschi@vetsuisse.unibe.ch) by September 15, 2021. More information about team and projects can be found here: http://www.ipa.vetsuisse.unibe.ch/forschung/gruppe_lundstroem_stadelmann.
Questions can be directly addressed to the group leader Prof. B. Lundström-Stadelmann (britta.lundstroem@vetsuisse.unibe.ch).
We look forward to your application!