Zika virus surveillance in human and mosquito populations in Cape Verde
Principal supervisor: Professor Taane G. Clark
Co-supervisor: Professor George Roussos
The Zika virus, originally identified in Uganda, has spread rapidly across regions occupied by Aedes spp mosquitoes in Africa, Asia, and recently to the Americas . Following the ongoing outbreak in the Americas, Cape Verde has become the first African country declaring a Zika epidemic , reporting 7557 cases between 21st of October 2015 and 8th of May 2016, 13 confirmed cases of microcephaly (born recently), and unofficial reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome cases. The strong historical and economic links with Brazil suggest that the Cape Verde epidemic is of Brazilian origin. Preliminary reports from the Institute Pasteur-Dakar support this theory. Moreover, due to Cape Verde’s daily international travel links for tourism and commerce there is a fear of this virus spreading to mainland Africa and Europe. With the support from the Cape Verde Ministry of Health and local authorities and through collaboration with the University Jean Piaget, we have initiated a genetic and epidemiological surveillance study of the Zika virus in Cape Verde to determine the origin and spread of infection. The proposed project has a multidisciplinary approach- viro-entomo-epidemio-genomics working together to support the investigation of the Zika virus infection epidemic. It will involve the integration and analysis of the large datasets being generated, including to: (i) map Zika incidence across Cape Verde, (ii) compare Zika genomes from the mosquito and human, and from other populations to determine the likely origin of Cape Verde infections, and (iii) to establish an informatics platform to integrate genomic, serological, hospital and other data for outbreaks, potentially using data from mobile phone capture technologies. There is the potential to trial rapid sequencing devices and mobile phone technology to estimate viral diversity and mosquito abundance in real time, as well as capture other important data (e.g. clinical).
The successful candidate will have a degree in molecular biology, bioinformatics or a related biomedical science subject, and an interest in disease outbreaks, genomic epidemiology, or application of portable data-capture technologies and interventions in field-based studies.
The studentship is open to applicants who would be assessed to have UK/EU fee status.
 Barzon L, Trevisan M, Sinigaglia A, Lavezzo E, Palù G. Zika virus: from pathogenesis to disease control. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2016 Sep;363(18). pii: fnw202. Epub 2016 Aug 21.
 Barreiro P1. Evolving RNA Virus Pandemics: HIV, HCV, Ebola, Dengue, Chikunguya, and now Zika! AIDS Rev. 2016 Jan-Mar;18(1):54-5.
Further details about the project may be obtained from:
Principal supervisor: Professor Taane G. Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Co-supervisor: Professor George Roussos (email@example.com)
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Closing date for applications is:
28th April 2017