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Project descriptions

B4associated

Supervisor: Susanne Hartmann / Friederike Ebner

Research Group: Institute of Immunology

Address: Institute of Immunology, Freie Universität Berlin, Robert-von-Ostertag-Str. 7-13, 14163 Berlin

 

Light-manipulated helminth eggs and their use in generating a vaccine against ascarids

Large roundworms are among the most common intestinal parasites in humans in tropical regions and animals worldwide, associated with malnutrition and developmental defects in humans and a significant economic impact on livestock husbandry.

The research project aims at analyzing light susceptibility of parasitic roundworms and the use of it to develop a novel generation of vaccines. We will use ultrashort (femtosecond) pulses of light to perform targeted manipulation of the larval stages within the infective parasite egg. The elucidation of mechanisms and functional consequences of laser light-manipulated helminth eggs will be the focus of this project.

The PhD project comprises a diverse spectrum of methods from setting up and calibration of femtosecond laser lines, to biochemical assays, parasitological methods and gene expression studies. In parallel, the PhD project will include studying the immune reaction of natural host species to the experimental vaccine. This project will be conducted and supervised within a team of researchers from the Leibniz Institute of Zoo- and Wildlife research (IZW), the Max-Born-Institute for non-linear optics and the Institute of Immunology (Center for Infection Medicine, FU Berlin). The wet-lab work will be conducted at FU Berlin and IZW.

Applications from graduates of the following disciplines are welcome: biophysics, physics, biochemistry and biotechnology, but also biology or veterinary medicine with a strong interest in biophysical methods.

https://www.vetmed.fu-berlin.de/en/einrichtungen/institute/we06/index.html


B5

Supervisor: Sebastian Rausch

Research Group: Institute of Immunology

Address: Institute of Immunology, Freie Universität Berlin, Robert-von-Ostertag-Str. 7-13, 14163 Berlin

 

Genetic, microbial and metabolic profiles associated with resistance to intestinal parasite infections

Infections with GI nematodes and Giardia are controlled by opposing effector T cell types and distinctly biased antibody responses, respectively. Assessing the kinetics, phenotype and specificity of T- and B-cell responses to both types of pathogens, we determined profound differences in adaptive immunity depending on the host genetic background.

Employing two well-characterized GI parasites of mice, this project will focus on i) the mechanistic basis for the genetically controlled resistance against GI parasite infections, ii) the  robustness and potential risks of distinct immune in co-infections, and iii), the impact of the bacterial microbiome and energy metabolism of the host on the adaptive IR.

https://www.vetmed.fu-berlin.de/en/einrichtungen/institute/we06/index.html


C5

Supervisor: Georg von Samson-Himmelstjerna, Jürgen Krücken

Research Group: Institute for Parasitology and Tropical Veterinary Medicine

Address: Institute for Parasitology, Freie Universität Berlin, Robert-von-Ostertag-Str. 7-13, 14163 Berlin

 

Ecological interdependencies and bio/pathological consequences of equine multi-species infection complexes

The cyathostomins are parasitic nematodes and represent the by far most prevalent pathogens of horses. They consist of 50 morphologically characterized species and in individual hosts sometimes over 20 species occur simultaneously. They thus can be regarded as a uniquely divers group of closely related metazoan organisms evolved to populate the same defined habitat. They are also considered to be the clinically most important equine parasites since they may cause severe disease such as acute diarrhea, weight loss and even death. During previous projects, significant progress has been made concerning proteomic and molecular species identification, population structure and relevance of geographical background. Employing next-generation-sequencing, bioinformatics and MALDI-TOF approaches, this project will now for the first time embark to study another layer of co-evolution by comparing the cyathostomin community composition on a species-specific level with the prevailing microbiome. Due to its multi-disciplinary methodological aproach employing classical veterinary parasitological, molecular biological, bioinformatic and biochemical techniques this projects provides excellent scientific training opportunities for future scientist in veterinary science or infection biology.

https://www.vetmed.fu-berlin.de/en/einrichtungen/institute/we13/index.html


C9

Supervisor: Friederike Ebner

Research Group: Institute of Immunology

Address: Institute of Immunology, Freie Universität Berlin, Robert-von-Ostertag-Str. 7-13, 14163 Berlin

 

The role of antigen-specific T cells in parasite distribution and predisposition to Ascaris suum in pigs

The large roundworms Ascaris (A.) lumbricoides and A. suum are among the most prevalent and relevant soil-transmitted helminths (STH) worldwide and parasitize the gastrointestinal tract of humans and pigs, respectively.

Two longstanding phenomena are typically observed: 1) only few individuals harbor very high numbers of worms, whereas the majority of individuals displays a rather low or intermediate parasite burden - a phenomenon called overdispersion. 2) individuals are predisposed to become infected with either low or high parasite burden and typically end up with similar parasite burden upon reinfection. Yet, the reasons for low and high worm burdens are unclear.

This project aims at investigating the role of highly specialized T helper cells to assess and control parasite burden in pigs as a human-relevant model. Benefitting from a recently established method to enrich and phenotype antigen-specific CD4+ T cells in swine, the project will explore effector, memory and recall responses of A. suum-specific T cells and their role for parasite predisposition. Experimental infections with one or multiple inoculations will be performed and re-infection rates addressed. In parallel, also natural infections will be studied.

Successful candidates will work with a human-relevant animal model to study how the host’s immune response relates to parasite infection intensity and will develop skills in advanced flow cytometry and cell sorting, multiplexing, cell culture-based and other immune assays, TCR specificity and parasitology.

https://www.vetmed.fu-berlin.de/en/einrichtungen/institute/we06/index.html


Genetic, microbial and metabolic profiles associated with resistance to intestinal parasite infections

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