Open PhD Projects

The following PhD projects are available in 2024 (earliest possible start in May 2024)

 Iatsenko Lab: Deciphering the mechanisms of polymicrobial infections using Drosophila melanogaster as a model


The Iatsenko lab utilizes the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a genetic model to investigate conserved host defense mechanisms, pathogen virulence factors that mediate immune evasion, and the role of microbiota in infection outcomes. Our primary focus lies in unravelling the pathogenesis of polymicrobial infections. While the recognition of the polymicrobial nature of infections is growing, the prevalence, microbial composition, and impact of such infections on natural Drosophila populations remain unknown. Therefore, our project aims to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Estimate the prevalence and microbial composition of polymicrobial infections in natural Drosophila populations.
  2. Investigate the effects of isolated polymicrobial communities versus individual microbes on the host.
  3. Decipher the mechanisms that govern inter-microbial interactions during selected polymicrobial infections.

The Iatsenko Lab is seeking applicants with strong experimental lab skills in microbiology or Drosophila infection model. Candidates with interest in mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis and microbe-microbe interactions are encouraged to apply. Applicants must have an excellent M.Sc. or equivalent degree in biology, microbiology, immunology or related discipline. Knowledge in one or more of the following topics is beneficial: polymicrobial infections, bacterial genetics, host-pathogen interactions, infection biology, microbiome, microbial interactions, innate immunity, Drosophila genetics, invertebrate pathology.

To find out more about the Iatsenko Lab.

Levashina Lab: Dynamics of interseason malaria parasite transmission


Malaria is the human infectious disease whose causative agent Plasmodium is transmitted between people by mosquito bites. In most areas of West Africa, malaria is seasonal due to the mosquito absence during the dry season. Accordingly, parasite prevalence in human populations is low. In collaboration with our colleagues from University of Bamako, Mali, and the Portugal lab at MPIIB, Berlin, the project will examine the dynamics of mosquito populations and mosquito Plasmodium infections during the interseason transition with the aim to understand mosquito and parasite genetic diversity that drives the establishment of malaria parasite reservoir. The project will use field mosquito time series collections, molecular genotyping and Nanopore sequencing, and data analyses approaches.

The Levashina Lab is seeking applicants with an interest in mosquito biology and malaria parasite transmission dynamics. Applicants must have an excellent M.Sc. or equivalent degree in biology, genetics/genomics, molecular biology, infection biology or a related discipline, knowledge in bioinformatics and statistics is desirable.

To find out more about the Levashina Lab.

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