Date Posted
31 Mar 2024

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PhD Project
University of Calgary

Understanding the nature of polytreponemal infections in Digital Dermatitis lesions in dairy cattle

31 Mar 2024

NOTE: this position listing has expired and may no longer be relevant!

Position Description

Start date: May 1st or September 1st 2016

Requirements and Qualifications: This position is open for people holding a Bachelor’s degree and/or Msc degree in biological sciences, animal sciences, veterinary, health sciences or equivalent degree. For the PhD position, having a DVM degree is a bonus.The candidate should have an appropriate problem solving attitude, good communication skills, and be willing and able to work in team as well as independently. Knowledge, experience or strong interest in molecular biology, cell biology and infectious diseases is expected.

Program: The successful candidate will be enrolled in the Veterinary Medical Sciences graduate program ( and receive training in molecular microbiology, molecular biology, bioinformatics (whole genome sequencing, RNA-seq) and infectious diseases and will become part of a large, well-funded and dynamic lab specialised in infectious disease research, with a focus on diagnostic and vaccine development, bacterial genomics and host-pathogen interactions.

Project desciption: Digital dermatitis (DD), an infectious disease of cattle feet, can cause severe lameness and economic losses, with substantial reductions in animal welfare. Observational and experimental studies strongly implicate Treponema species as major etiologic agents. Trep spp. are consistently present as communities of multiple species in DD skin lesions. Although this polytreponemal etiology of DD is acknowledged, its role in pathogenesis has not been clearly elucidated. Presumably, this has resulted in oversimplified models of disease that do not translate well to field conditions. Therefore, we propose to investigate the Trep spp. by whole-genome sequencing and use this information to develop qPCR tools to characterize dynamics and composition of Trep communities in all stages of DD lesions. Furthermore, we will compare genes conferring virulence and resistance to antimicrobials and products
used in footbaths. Next, we will study naturally occurring combinations of Trep spp. in both in vitro and in vivo models (in mice and cattle) and use RNA sequencing to elucidate mechanisms underlying increased virulence coming from synergistic communities of Trep spp. Collectively, these studies will identify essential, pioneering and exacerbating Trep spp. in DD lesions. This will point out which Trep spp. should be targeted and included in vaccine and new treatment development. The proposed studies will also identify the reservoirs and routes of transmission of specific Trep spp..

UCVM is a new and dynamic veterinary faculty in Western Canada that is committed to strengthen the connections between animal health, public health, and the environment. UCVM faculty works across disciplines and Departments, fostering collaborative research, teaching and service. Descriptions of the Faculty and its departments can be found on the UCVM website ( The University of Calgary is a research-intensive, comprehensive university that supports innovation in research, education and service to the community. Calgary is a vibrant, multicultural city with a population of 1,200,000. It is located near the Rocky Mountains, Banff National Park and Lake Louise and offers an enormous opportunity for outdoor activities both in winter and summer. Applicants with a Biology or Ecology degree or with a degree in related field will be considered. The graduate program will help the successful candidate develop strong skills in vector ecology, biostatistics, and epidemiological modelling. The salary will be commensurate with the level of education and experience. For additional information please contact Dr. Jeroen De Buck (

How to Apply

Interested individuals should submit a current curriculum vitae and an outline of research interests along with the names of three referees to: Jeroen De Buck (MSc, PhD); Associate Professor, Department of Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary 3330 Hospital Drive, NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4N1.

Position Category: Medical & Biological Sciences. Position Type: PhD Project. Salary: €10'000 - €20'000.