Metabolomic and proteomic approaches to identify target biomarkers as analytes for the development of improved diagnostic tests for Bovine TB (PhD Scholarship)

Metabolomic and proteomic approaches to identify target biomarkers as analytes for the development of improved diagnostic tests for Bovine TB

Aberystwyth University, IBERS

Project ID: AU30015
Annual Stipend: £14,340
Application Deadline: 23rd February 2018

Bovine tuberculosis is caused by the infection of Mycobacterium bovis in cattle. The Welsh
Government is committed to a “long-term goal of eradicating bovine TB in Wales” This is strongly
based on a rigorous testing programme. However, BTB is a difficult disease to diagnose. The most
commonly used is the (SICCT); commonly known as the tuberculin skin test. However, the SICCT will
at best only detect approximately 80% of infected cattle at any one time and can only be repeated 60
days following an original test. Both the lack of sensitivity and the long re-test period, could lead to
undisclosed animal remaining in infected farms, which would lead to persistent herd breakdowns. The
outcomes of the proposal will be an improved understanding of the infection biology of BTB and
underpin the development of diagnostic test platforms for this disease.

ProTem (Dr. David Rooke) has developed many, point of use tests which deliver results in minutes.
Rooke and Mur have initiated collaborations with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) as they
are GB’s National Laboratory and an OIE Reference Laboratory for BTB. APHA have been involved,
together with a variety of national and international collaborators in research activities to improve the
diagnosis of BTB in cattle. The project is therefore of paramount interest to each of the sponsors.
In the first year, the research student will join an established team in the IBERS High Resolution Mass
Spectrometry Laboratory. (S)he will receive thorough training in discovery platforms using Proteomic
approaches on a gel-free system as well as metabolome profiling and fingerprinting technologies.
During the initial phase, the student will acquire sample processing, instrumental analysis and data
analysis skills. The student will visit collaborators ProTem and the Animal and Plant Health Agency
(APHA) to familiarize her/himself with sampling procedures, the nature and interpretation of known
Bovine tuberculosis (BTB) tests as well as experimental design strategies suitable for biomarkers
discovery. The designing of initial experiments in the following months will help identifying potential
diagnostic biomarker targets. Further field trials will then determine the robustness of these newly
identified potential biomarkers alongside routine testing methods. The long-term ambition of the
project is the generation of targeted assays for any confirmed biomarkers that can be widely applied,
independent of the large functional genomic platforms that have been used to discover the

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by
Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s
European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.
The successful candidate will need to be resident in the convergence area on registration, and must
have the right to work in the region on qualification. The successful applicant should have a minimum
of a 1st or good 2:1 in a relevant degree, and be available to take up the studentship by October 2018.
The project is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the European Union’s
Convergence programme administered by the Welsh Government. KESS II PhD scholarships are
collaborative awards with external partners. (Applicants need to only apply, they do not need to
search for partners).

To apply, please submit the following to the Postgraduate Admissions Office (address below)
1. A completed Research Programme Application Form, two references. Application and reference
forms may be downloaded from
2. A completed KESS II Participant proposal form (put the reference number AU30015 in the top right
hand box of the application form) and an up-to-date CV. KESS II application forms are available to
download at the link below.
3. A PhD proposal of up to 1,000 words where you expand on your experience and interests and
describe why you are a good candidate for this research studentship. Please refer to the Project

Value of Award: A stipend of £14,340 (rising in accordance with inflation for the remaining two years).
Each scholarship has an additional budget for travel, equipment/consumables and training to support
your research. KESS II PhD Scholarship holders do not pay fees.
Length: Full-time for 3 years. (Theses must be submitted 6 months after the funded three year study
Training: The achievement of a Postgraduate Skills Development Award (PSDA) is compulsory for each KESS II scholar (The PSDA is based on a 60 credit award, which is an additional award to the PhD).
Eligibility: To be eligible to apply for a KESS II award, you must be resident, upon starting the
scholarship, in the Convergence Area of Wales and you must be able to take paid employment in the
Convergence area on completion of the scholarship.

The Convergence Area means the following counties of Wales:
Isle of Anglesey
Neath Port Talbot
Rhondda Cynon Taff

For further student eligibility criteria related to the individual projects, please view the details of the
individual project above.

Informal enquiries should be made to Prof Luis Mur at or 01970 622981

Address for applications:
Postgraduate Admissions Office
Recruitment & Admissions
Student Welcome Centre
Aberystwyth University
SY23 3FB

Quote Reference: AU30015
Application Deadline: 23rd February 2018