This scholarship competition is open to all new postgraduate research applicants.
GCDC scholars will receive the following:
• Annual stipend at UKRI rates for 3.5 years (TBC but this was £15,285 for 2020/21);
• Annual tuition fees at UKRI Home/EU rates for 3.5 years (£4,407 for 2020/21);
• A Research Training Support Grant of £1,500 per year for the first 3 years of study; and
• Specialised interdisciplinary GCDC cohort training activities.GCDC Project-led Studentship - School of Biosciences and School of Economics: Investigating the diarrhoeal pathogens in vulnerable populations in developing countriesLocations:
School of Biosciences and School of Economics, University of Kent in Canterbury with placements in Bangladesh Agricultural University in Bangladesh and Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai, Thailand.Background:
Bangladesh and Thailand are Southern Asian countries that share borders with other developing counties: India (Bangladesh only), Myanmar, and Laos (Thailand only). Both countries are migration hubs for displaced vulnerable populations originating from regions with disrupted health care systems (e.g. Rohingya from Myanmar), thus, they constitute excellent examples for monitoring moving human disease reservoirs. While most of the research on diseases in these countries has focused on malaria, work on diarrhoeal diseases has been limited. Diarrhoea is a leading cause of malnutrition in many children. According to the World Health Organisation, diarrhoeal diseases are the second leading cause of death in children under five years old. Each year diarrhoea kills around 525,000 children worldwide.
Recent data has shown that a high percentage of the children of vulnerable populations from the above countries have diarrhoeal diseases. Infections in children could be either acquired from other humans (contact or spread during migration), from water and/or animal reservoirs. The source and spread of these infections within and between animals and humans and the role of the environment (water, food) has not been uncovered. This gap in our knowledge is mainly due to the lack of communication between clinicians, veterinarians, scientists and policy makers in many epidemiological studies.Project Aim:
This project will provide key data for understanding the prevalence, environmental loading and molecular characterisation of diarrhoeal pathogens in vulnerable populations in both Bangladesh and Thailand that will allow to develop diagnostics tools and policies for eliminating the spread of diarrhoeal diseases. Project outline:
This PhD project will envisage bridging this gap through the first thorough investigation to uncover the pathogens reservoir and infection in both humans and animals in Bangladesh and Thailand. Among diverse areas and populations, we will collect samples from various urban areas of Bangladesh and Thailand including Slum populations and/or Rohingya refugees in these countries. This project will allow the PhD student to determine the causative agent and the source of diarrhoeal infections. The student will also use protocols that are currently being developed in the Tsaousis lab to establish new methods for early detection of these diseases, since it has been shown that timely detection of diarrhoeal agents drastically improves survival. Project Objectives:
Using a multidisciplinary approach, the prospective PhD student will aim to answer fundamental questions concerning, source, transmission dynamics and prevention of diarrhoeal diseases in developing countries. By employing a combination of traditional and sophisticated modern techniques in the field and laboratory settings, the PhD student will tackle three major questions concerning diarrhoeal infections in Bangladesh and Thailand:
1. What is the prevalence, environmental loading and molecular characteristics of diarrhoeal-causing agents in vulnerable populations of Bangladesh and Thailand?
2. What is the source of infections in Bangladesh and Thailand? For example, there are Rohingya camps in both countries, both of which have hundreds of diarrhoeal cases on a daily basis: are these diseases due to the unhygienic conditions in the camps or have these refugees imported diseases from their country of origin? Or could they have acquired them during migration? What kind of preventions strategies (e.g policy) and tools should be put in place to avoid outbreaks of these diseases?
3. Which methods can be employed towards detecting diarrhoea agents in a timely manner, reducing transmission and eliminating disease spreading in urban areas?Recent relevant references:
Kotloff KL, et al . Burden and aetiology of diarrhoeal disease in infants and young children in developing countries (the Global Enteric Multicenter Study, GEMS): a prospective, case-control study. Lancet. 2013 Jul 20;382(9888):209-22.
Yowang, A., Tsaousis, A., Chumphonsuk, T., Thongsin, N., Kullawong, N., Popluechai, S. and Gentekaki, E. (2018). High diversity of Blastocystis subtypes isolated from asymptomatic adults living in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Infection, Genetics and Evolution [Online] 65:270-275.
Rana, M.S., Boby, F., Shahiduzzaman, M., 2017. Isolation and molecular identification of Cryptosporidium from human stool. International Journal of Natural and Social Sciences, 4(3): 58-62.
Khaleque, M.A., Boby, F., Shahiduzzaman, M., 2016. Molecular characterization of Cryptosporidium isolated from animal and human. Intl. J. Appl. Res. 2, 3, 172-176.Supervisors:
This project will be jointly supervised by:
Dr. Anastasios Tsaousis (https://www.kent.ac.uk/biosciences/people/653/tsaousis-anastasios
) (Kent Biosciences) who is expert in biology, prevalence and evolution of microbial gut parasites.
Dr. Mark Shepherd (https://www.kent.ac.uk/biosciences/people/1025/shepherd-mark
) (Kent Biosciences) who is expert in bacterial gut pathogens
Dr. Bansi Malde (https://www.kent.ac.uk/economics/staff/profiles/bansi-malde.html
) (Kent Economics) who is expert in investigating the determinants of household investments in health.
Prof. Md. Shahiduzzaman (https://www.bau.edu.bd/profile/VPAR1006
) (Bangladesh Agricultural University, Bangladesh) who is expert in molecular epidemiology of zoonotic parasites.
Dr. Eleni Gentekaki (http://web2.mfu.ac.th/school/science2014/index.php?id=257
) (Mae Fah Luang University, Thailand) who is expert in eukaryotic microbiota.
Informal enquiries can be addressed to Dr. Anastasios Tsaousis (email@example.com