The Reece lab in the Institutes of Evolution, Immunology and Infection Research, University of Edinburgh, is recruiting a postdoc.
Topic: Parasite offence or host defence? The ecology and evolution of biological rhythms in malaria infection
Details and application information: https://www.vacancies.ed.ac.uk/pls/corehrrecruit/erq_jobspec_version_4.jobspec?p_id=042288
Biological rhythms allow activities to be coordinated with the consequences of the Earth’s daily and seasonal rotation. The mechanisms underpinning the clocks that drive daily rhythms are well understood. In contrast, the costs and benefits provided by daily rhythms – including how rhythms shape interactions between organisms – are poorly understood. One of the most fundamental interactions between organisms is that between hosts and parasites. Why parasites – that exclusively live within the bodies of other organisms – exhibit biological rhythms and how they are regulated are longstanding questions. Examining the roles of rhythms in disease is a new arena for studying host-parasite-vector coevolution. Also, integrating disease control interventions into an evolutionary chronobiology framework offers innovative approaches to improving health. This includes the development of drugs to disrupt parasite rhythms, harnessing circadian systems to enhance immune responses, or precisely timing drug administration to make treatment more effective.
We are offering a postdoctoral position as part of a Wellcome Trust funded project to investigate the role of circadian rhythms in malaria infection. The project will integrate a novel mix of disciplines (evolutionary ecology, chronobiology, and parasitology) to determine why and how timing matters for interactions between parasites, hosts and vectors, the severity and transmission of disease, and fitness of all parties. This is a very broad topic and so the successful candidate will be encouraged to develop their own niche. Growing evidence that the daily rhythms of malaria parasites can confer tolerance to antimalarial drugs, and that the use of bed nets is changing the biting time of the mosquitoes that transmit malaria makes understanding how and why parasites exhibit daily rhythms increasingly urgent.
This interdisciplinary Wellcome Trust funded project will break new ground by elucidating the evolutionary ecology of biological rhythms for parasites. It will integrate a novel mix of disciplines (evolutionary ecology, chronobiology, and parasitology) and open up novel avenues for disease control. The post holder will plan, conduct and write up research that they have led and support the research of others in the lab. The project will focus on a rodent malaria, murine host, and mosquito vector model system.
This post is full time and fixed term for 3 years.
Salary: £32,548 – £38,833 per annum
Closing Date: Friday 02 February 2018 at 5pm (GMT)
Please get in touch if you are interested and have questions: Sarah.Reece@ed.ac.uk
The Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia is initiating a new track for doctoral training in Interdisciplinary Disease Ecology Across Scales. A postdoctoral associate is being sought to assist with curriculum development, student evaluation, and assessment.
Applicants must have a Ph.D. in either (1) ecology, evolution, or other field related to infectious disease biology (e.g., immunology, microbiology) or (2) education (with a strong emphasis and background in biology). Applicants are expected to have experience or a genuine interest in instruction, education research, or evaluation and assessment at the post-secondary level.
For more details about the position and how to apply please visit:
In April Nina Wale, an empiricist at Penn State University, collaborated with Aaron King, a theoretical evolutionary ecologist at the University of Michigan.
Experiments conducted by Wale have revealed that varying the availability of a micronutrient in the blood alters the infection dynamics in the mouse malaria model Plasmodium chabaudi. Importantly, her nutrient manipulations altered the dynamics during a period of the infection that has proven difficult to model and is associated with an augmentation of the host immune response. With these data in hand, Wale and King hoped to shed light on the determinants of parasite population dynamics and on how parasites interact with the host immune response. The research exchange gave Wale and King an opportunity to work intensely to build a model that could describe the data. Wale, an empiricist, learned how the models they made worked ‘under the hood’ and developed her programming skills. A number of hypotheses about the underlying causes of malaria infection dynamics have emerged from their modeling work and they are designing experiments to test them. They hope to continue using theory and data in combination to broaden our understanding of how parasite traits and the host immune response interact to create the characteristic dynamics of malaria infections.
The Inaugural meeting of The International Society for Evolution, Medicine, & Public Health will be held March 19-21, 2015 at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona (adjacent to Phoenix).
March 18, 2015 Pre-meeting for directors of evolutionary medicine programs
Thank you for applying to participate in our NSF-funded workshop on selection, to be held in conjunction with the 2015 Woods Hole Immunoparasitology (WHIP) Conference, 19-22 April in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA. We have received outstanding applications and have made our selection for this year’s workshop.
The 2015 workshop will be addressing the principle question: What are the functional forms for immunological killing of parasites, and in how much detail must we measure immunity to understand immune selection? We will explicitly compare immune selection pressures and immunity-transmission relationships across an array of protozoan and helminth taxa. We will benefit from being embedded in the great, long-standing WHIP meeting that combines top-notch science with many opportunities for informal discussions, and of course many sea views!
To understand the evolutionary biology of infectious diseases, we need to study both within-host (e.g., immunological) and between-host (e.g., transmission-related) processes. Why? We must study both scales because we know that parasites must succeed on both scales if they are going to spread and persist in host populations.
The logic is as follows. A parasite that outwits its host and escapes clearance by the immune system can only be successful evolutionarily — i.e., can only gain genetic representation in the next generation of parasites — if it is also transmitted from one host to the next. In other words, immune escape that leads to a transmission dead-end will get a parasite nowhere! And conversely, a parasite that excels at transmission (traveling from one host to the next, whether via a sneeze or an insect vector) yet fails to survive immune attack in the next host will also be an evolutionary dud.
So we as scientists must understand parasites across the whole life cycle if we are to understand and predict the evolution of parasites over time and in response to medical interventions.
There is growing recognition that the development of new, evolutionarily robust treatments and interventions against infectious disease requires a better understanding of the dynamics of parasites and pathogens inside their hosts. While progress in microbiology and immunology has continued to unravel complex molecular interactions between microbes and their hosts, population biologists have begun deploying new tools to understand the ecological causes and evolutionary consequences of the observed within-host dynamics. In particular, this work has formalised the dynamics of infection to enable quantification of the relative roles of target cell limitation and immune responses in controlling infection within a host. Such a framework, in turn, generates testable predictions about which parasite or pathogen genotypes will have a competitive advantage within hosts and thus will be transmitted across the host population. Theoreticians took the step from within-host dynamics to between-host transmission many years ago, but their models are only now beginning to be tested and improved, thanks to new developments in both experimental and statistical techniques.
To build upon and promote these developments, several RCN members (led by Olivier Restif and Andrea Graham) contributed to the current issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Within-host dynamics of infection: from ecological insights to evolutionary predictions.
Multiple colored variants of a strain of Vibrio cholerae (a causative agent of cholera in human hosts) co-inoculated on glass. The variants express 3 different fluorescent proteins that enable visualization of the contribution of each to biofilm formation. One optical slice at the base of a biofilm is shown in two of these images, while the 3-D volume snapshot was rendered using a z-stack of optical slices of the biofilm. Biofilm formation can affect virulence and persistence of this important human pathogen.
These monkeys host arboviruses as well as the primate malaria species Plasmodium knowlesi which can also infect humans. Key determinants of whether macaques and people share parasites include proximity of human habitation to the forest, the location and feeding preferences of mosquito vectors, and relative susceptibility of the host species. Zoonotic reservoirs like these can play a major role in the evolution and persistence of parasites. And for species of conservation concern, parasites can have an important effect on likelihood of extinction.