International Scholarships

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

[Belgium] PhD Scholarship in Bacteriology and Immunology - The Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre Belgium

The Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre PhD Position Department of Bacteriology and Immunology

Science at the service of safe food production and animal health

The Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre (VAR) is a Federal Public Scientific Institution located on two campuses at Uccle and Tervuren, near Brussels. In the framework of sustainable and socially acceptable agriculture, the VAR, through scientific research, expert advice, and the provision of services, contributes to a pro-active policy as regards safe food production, animal health, and public health on the federal and international levels.

To fulfill this task, 60 scientific and 150 technical staff are active in applied research in the fields of transmissible animal diseases, and of safety of animal and crop products. To support its growth and research activities carried out at the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology, VAR is currently seeking candidates for a PhD position.

Framework and tasks Paratuberculosis or Johne's disease is an enzootic bacterial disease in ruminants, due to Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (Map), characterised by a chronic and fatal diahrrea. Its prevalence has reached endemicity in European dairy herds and in the sheep, goat and deer farming sectors, with 70-80% herd prevalence in some regions. Paratuberculosis is also responsible for persistant environmental contamination of pastures and water catchment areas. Current diagnostic methods lack sensitivity, and current vaccines have little impact on the prevalence of infection; therefore both require improvement for disease control.

The aim of this research is to explore and optimise the diagnostic and vaccine potential of recently identified Map antigens in cattle. For this purpose diagnostic antigen candidates will be targeted to Antigen Presenting Cell (APC) surface receptors in a recombinant fusion strategy to enhance antigen in vitro uptake and presentation, and vaccine candidates will be targeted to cattle dendritic cell surface markers to enhance and modulate antigen presentation.

The research supports ongoing programs on M. bovis diagnosis and Map antigen discovery at the Veterinary Agrochemical Research Centre, and should lead to a PhD at Université Libre de Bruxelles. It will be carried out in both institutions under joint supervision of Dr M. Govaerts, VAR, and Prof dr M. Moser, ULB, in collaboration with external partners. The candidate will be recruited by VAR under a one-year, twice renewable research contract.


- Master in Life Sciences, Bio-Engineering, Veterinary Medicine or another relevant field
- Written/spoken fluency in either English or French.
- Successful candidates will have the ability to work in high autonomy within a multilingual group.

Contact details

- Dr Marc Govaerts, Dept. Bacteriology & Immunology, Veterinary and
Agrochemical Research Centre (CODA-CERVA),
Groeselenberg 99, B-1180 Uccle,
Tel : +32-2-3790443;
Fax : +32-2-3790679;
email :;

- homepages:

Start date: 01-Feb-2008, preferably 01-Jan-2008


Please send your curriculum vitae, motivation, relevant research experience, study curriculum with rankings, English/French proficiency (for foreign students), pdf of diploma and transcripts (translation if necessary), and name/e-mail (coordinates) of 2 reference persons, to

Further Details

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