Understanding the epidemiology of equine chlamydiosis PhD Scholarship

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Understanding the epidemiology of equine chlamydiosis PhD Scholarship


Applications are invited to be submitted to the Office of Research by 4pm on 31 July 2018.

Equine chlamydiosis, caused by the avian pathogen Chlamydia psittaci, is an emerging cause of pregnancy loss affecting Australia’s Thoroughbred industry. C. psittaci also poses a risk to veterinarians with several zoonotic outbreaks documented. Molecular data suggests that infection in horses is the result of infectious disease spill-over from native Australian birds, however, when and how this transmission occurs is unknown. This project will undertake field surveillance of chlamydial infections on Thoroughbred studs with a history of equine chlamydiosis. Laboratory analysis will then establish the C. psittaci infection pattern in horses and identify the avian reservoirs and transmission risks

This project will be primarily performed in the USC Animal Research Centre’s internationally recognised Chlamydia Research laboratory and also involve extensive collaboration with veterinarians and stud workers associated with Australia’s Thoroughbred breeding industry. The USC team is led by Prof Adam Polkinghorne and is composed of a large group of postdocs and postgraduate students studying the diagnosis, epidemiology and control of chlamydial infections in humans and animals. Prof Polkinghorne’s team specialises in the detection and characterisation of novel chlamydial infections in animals, with recent work identifying a range of new chlamydial taxa in a variety of animals but also existing chlamydial pathogens causing important new diseases in humans and animals.

The current project will utilise a growing collaboration between USC and Scone Equine Hospital to complete field and laboratory based studies of C. psittaci infection. This Agrifuture Australia’s funded project will provide the successful candidate with an exciting opportunity to gain advanced skills in molecular microbiology techniques including qPCR, molecular typing and genomics, complemented by extensive experience in field sampling and monitoring and other ecological techniques supported by veterinarians and experienced wildlife ecologists.

The specific aims of this project are to:

1. Determine the prevalence of C. psittaci infection in mares on farms with a history of equine chlamydiosis over consecutive foaling seasons;
2. Characterise the C. psittaci infection course in mares and assess the risk of associated equine pregnancy loss;
3. Identify the reservoirs of equine C. psittaci infection and the potential routes of transmission to horses

Contact Prof Adam Polkinghorne - apolking@usc.edu.au for more information.

  • Domestic student or International HDR student at USC
  • Bachelors Degree with First Class Honours or equivalent previous study, relevant work experience, research publications, or other research experience
Selection criteria:
  • Academic qualifications
  • Alignment of the proposed research to one of USC’s areas of research concentration
  • Record of research publications
  • Professional research experience
Preference will be given to applicants who can demonstrate one or more of the following criteria:
  • a relevant qualification and/or experience in veterinary medicine;
  • relevant qualifications and/or experience with field sampling and other ecological technqiues;
  • experience in the use of a range of relevant laboratory skills, such as, (a) PCR – standard, quantitiative, real time (b) DNA sequencing and analysis, and (c) genomics analysis of large datasets, such as whole genomes or microbiomes.
Eligible programs:
Number available:
  • Annual stipend commensurate with the Research Training Program rate (indexed annually) - 2018 rate is $27,082
  • $10,000 annual top-up stipend
  • If the successful candidate is an International student, this scholarship will also include tuition fees and OSHC for the duration of the scholarship
To apply:
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