PhD Student

Last application date
Jul 15, 2019 09:31
DI05 - Department of Pathology, bacteriology and poultry diseases
Employment category
Doctoral fellow
Limited duration
Master degree of Bioengineering Sciences, Biotechnology, Veterinary Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences or equivalent
Occupancy rate
Vacancy Type
Research staff

Job description

Campylobacter is the most common cause of bacterial-mediated diarrheal disease in humans. With about 200,000 human cases every year, this disease is the most frequently reported food-borne illness in the European Union. However, the actual number of cases is believed to be around 9 million each year. The cost of campylobacteriosis to public health systems and to lost productivity in the EU is estimated by EFSA to be around EUR 2.4 billion a year. Poultry products are considered the most important source for campylobacteriosis. In Belgium, 65% of the Belgian broiler flocks are positive for Campylobacter and on a European level, the average prevalence is 71.2%.

Recently, our research group identified several immunodominant Campylobacter antigens, which have high potential to develop a robust Campylobacter vaccine to combat cecal Campylobacter colonization in poultry. Since in poultry, an efficient, safe, flexible and cost-effective vaccine platform is desirable, our interest has turned to the application of mRNA vaccines.

Therefore, the general aim of this PhD-project is to construct and evaluate a self-replicating mRNA Campylobacter vaccine in chickens. In relation to this goal, the following research objectives are addressed: 1) Engineering of a self-replicating mRNA vaccine expressing multiple C. jejuni antigens. 2) Determining the optimal administration route and dose self-replicating mRNA in chickens 3) Evaluating the efficacy of a self-replicating mRNA Campylobacter vaccine.

This interdisciplinary research will be carried out in collaboration between the laboratories of Prof. Garmyn (Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Avian Diseases, Ghent University) and Prof. Sanders (Laboratory of Gene Therapy, Ghent University). The results of this project can lead to applications in veterinary medicine combatting the most important bacterial foodborne disease in the world! Are you willing to take up the challenge?

What do we offer?

-> Performing challenging and interdisciplinary research in two fully equipped, state-of-the-art, laboratories (Laboratory of Bacteriology and Mycology and Laboratory of Gene Therapy, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University).

-> Working in a pleasant work environment with a young and dynamic team

-> Training and guidance in writing scientific papers

-> The opportunity to obtain a PhD

-> The position will start on 1 October 2019

Profile of the candidate

-> Master degree of Bioengineering Sciences, Biotechnology, Veterinary Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences or equivalent

-> Excellent communication skills and a good command of English

-> Highly motivated and intrinsic interest in vaccination strategies, molecular techniques, bacteriology and poultry.

-> You are driven to explore research questions independently and in depth

-> Having followed a Course in Laboratory Animal Science is an asset

-> Candidates obtaining their diploma before 31 July 2019 can also apply. We are not looking for postdoctoral researchers who already have a PhD diploma.

How to apply

Send your motivation letter, Curriculum vitae, and reference contacts to Prof. An Garmyn ( by e-mail.

Applications may be written in English or Dutch. After the first screening, suitable candidates will be invited for an interview. End date to apply is July 15th.