PhD student with strong interest in metagenomics for diagnosis of swine viral diseases

Last application date
May 31, 2019 14:32
DI04 - Department of Virology, parasitology and immunology
Employment category
Doctoral fellow
Limited duration
Master of Bioscience Engineering, Cell and Gene Biotechnology
Occupancy rate
Vacancy Type
Research staff

Job description

Veterinarians and medical doctors are currently hampered when they face infectious diseases. They should be able to ask the simple question: “What is in this sample?”, without prior knowledge. In swine, respiratory and enteric diseases are caused by complexes of different viruses and bacteria and we currently lack understanding of the importance of certain pathogens in the disease complex. A viral metagenomics nanopore sequencing (MinION) platform was recently implemented at the Laboratory of Virology of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and is being validated as a diagnostic tool for viral disease complexes in swine (Theuns et al., 2018, Scientific Reports). As PhD student you will take the lead in developing new and improved protocols for viral sequencing on the nanopore platform and will perform bioinformatics analyses. Spiking experiments, well-defined field samples and clinical samples will be continuously available to achieve this goal. Internal & process controls will be setup in preparation of diagnostics to serve veterinarians in the field. A very proactive mindset and strong willingness to work at the frontline in the field of genomics is required, because technology is rapidly evolving. A major challenge will be the interpretation of the diagnostic readouts. The candidate will do experimental work to better understand the importance of certain viruses or viral complexes which will be discovered with sequencing. The laboratory has several in vitro and in vivo models of the respiratory and intestinal mucosa, which will be used to isolate viruses for further research, e.g. to demonstrate the Koch’s postulates and to develop (auto)vaccines.

Our offer:

  • A challenging & relevant project under guidance of an enthusiastic team
  • Abilities for continuous education (e.g. Doctoral Schools)
  • Salaries according to the scales of Ghent University
  • Reimbursement of public transport for commuting, compensation for commuters travelling by bike, ecocheques

Profile of the candidate

  • Master’s degree in Bioscience Engineering (Cell and Gene Biotechnology) (last year students are encouraged to apply)
  • Motivated to obtain a PhD in Veterinary Sciences
  • Willing to apply for a VLAIO Baekeland bursary in 2020
  • Entrepreneurial, proactive mindset & high level of independence
  • Strong communication skills
  • Strong interest in infectious diseases
  • Experience with next- or third-generation sequencing is an asset
  • Experience with/motivation to learn bioinformatics is an asset

How to apply

Send your motivation letter and curriculum vitae to Dr. Sebastiaan Theuns ( and Prof. Dr. Hans Nauwynck ( before 31st of May 2019

Questions: contact us by phone at 09/264.73.87 or 09/263.73.73 or by email.