PhD on international surveillance for pandemic emergence: targeted detection of emerging viruses...

Updated: 5 months ago
Job Type: Temporary
Deadline: 22 Nov 2022

Erasmus MC, TU Delft, and Erasmus University Rotterdam have joined forces in the Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center (PDPC). PDPC aims to prepare society for future pandemics and disasters. We will reduce vulnerabilities and risks and build resilience through effective disaster prevention, preparedness and recovery measures. Convergence of the technical, medical and social sciences is essential for developing the next generation of approaches to disasters and pandemics. In the foreseeable future, our society can expect many more and unforeseen virus outbreaks and extreme events because of climate change. But how do we protect society from the next pandemic or disaster? Which of the lessons learnt could develop prevention and intervention measures, and how could research contribute to preparedness?

One of the pillars of preparedness is a well-functioning early warning system. As most emerging diseases come from animal reservoirs and the extensive global transport networks could aid the fast dissemination of these diseases, early warning focusing on detection of changes in the ecology of diseases in wildlife or livestock could potentially prevent large outbreaks. In this frontrunner project on integrated early warning surveillance tools and methods, 3 PhD students and one postdoc will work with a large multidisciplinary team of senior researchers. The project is highly collaborative. Within the project we aim to identify and characterize critical nodes in the complex global network of transport and migration for the emergence and dissemination of new viruses. Using rapid deployable and innovative sampling and detection methods we will further investigate these critical nodes.

As a PhD student in this project, you will focus on the detection of viruses of concern, with a focus on virus families that are most likely to cause large outbreaks and those that would have the largest disruptive impact on society. It is anticipated that sampling throughout the global transport networks will result in the detection of genome sequences of novel and emerging viruses. For selected (enteric) viruses these sequences will be used in phenotypical assays to e.g. characterize antigenic and binding properties, to explore genotype to phenotype translation. This will allow you to investigate viral properties of novel viruses, and how this relates to their ability to cause outbreaks.

Within the project you will collaborate with two PhD students positioned at TU Delft to optimize and validate the sampling and detection methods. In addition, you will take part in field work in the Port of Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport and some of the research will take place at the KWR water research institute, Wageningen University and Research, and TU Delft. During the project you will also closely collaborate with GGD Rotterdam Rijnmond, and Erasmus University.

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