Improved diagnostic detection of Zika virus

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Improved diagnostic detection of Zika virus


Applications are no longer being accepted.

Zika is a mosquito-borne disease of global significance that poses a serious risk to tropical and subtropical regions globally. There is an urgent need for rapid hand held diagnostic devices to accurately detect Zika virus infection in humans and mosquitoes. However, current technologies have drawbacks including lack of sensitivity or cross-reactivity with closely related diseases such as dengue. This project will evaluate and improve biotechnological devices for improved detection of Zika.

Zika is a mosquito-borne viral disease that has had a dramatic global impact, especially for its association with severe congenital malformations in newborns. Rapid and accurate detection of Zika virus (ZIKV) in mosquitoes or infected individuals is critical to control outbreaks, and the molecular engineering group at the University of the Sunshine Coast specialises in the development of rapid paper-based technologies for improved disease detection and surveillance. In collaboration between domestic and international partners from academia, industry and various government branches, we are seeking to evaluate and improve existing technologies for the detection of Zika virus.

This PhD project will aim to

  1. Evaluate recently developed rapid-assay technology for efficacy in detection of Zika virus for surveillance of infected mosquito populations
  2. Evaluate recently developed rapid-assay technology for efficacy in detection of Zika-infected individuals.
  3. Investigate biotechnological solutions to improve the accessibility of the technology for end-users whist maintaining speed, sensitivity and minimising cross-reactivity with other related diseases.

Please contact A/Prof Joanne Macdonald ( for more information.

To be eligible for selection for any PGRS, an applicant must have been accepted to enrol as a HDR candidate at USC and must not be receiving an equivalent scholarship or salary providing a benefit greater than 75 per cent of the minimum Research Training Program stipend rate, as provided in the Commonwealth Scholarships (Research) Guidelines 2017.
Selection criteria:
  1. Undergraduate degree achievement in a related field (Molecular biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Chemistry, Bioinformatics, Clinical trials or equivalent)
  2. Publications
  3. Most recent and relevant degree
  4. Relevant professional experience
  5. Demonstrated experience in liaising between academia, industry and government in large collaborative projects
  6. Some experience with laboratory skills such as (a) PCR – standard, quantitative, or real time, (b) immunological assays (ELISA, Western blotting, lateral flow), (c) bioinformatics (especially primer design), (d) conducting or managing clinical trials, and/or (e) good laboratory/good manufacturing practices (GLP/GMP)
Please note that the successful applicant will be required to assign their IP to the University.
Eligible programs:
Number available:
Stipend commensurate with the RTP rate (2017 rate - A$26,628), Tuition Fees and Overseas Health Cover for the standard duration of the program (3 years)
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