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PhD Studentship: Identifying the Cause of Meningoencephalitis of Unknown Origin (MUO) in Dogs to Improve Clinical Management

University of Bristol - Bristol Vet School, Langford

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Langford
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: From £24,090 per annum, pro rata
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 4th December 2023
Closes: 10th January 2024

Funding for UK

International students are welcome to apply but must be able to fund the difference between UK and International tuition fees.

Funding amount

Year 1 - £24,090;

Year 2 - £24,452;

Year 3 - £24,818 per annum;

Year 4 (6m) - £12,595.

Hours: Full time

Contract: 3.5 year studentship

Closing date: 10th January 2024

The project:

Dogs naturally present with diseases of the brain and spinal cord such as meningo-encephalitis of unknown origin (MUO), in which severe inflammation occurs that shares many similarities with some human conditions such as multiple sclerosis or neuro-sarcoidosis. Affected dogs are presented to the neurologist with various problems including seizures, falls, reduced vision, loss of routine behaviour, stupor or coma, neck or back pain, amongst other signs. Large veterinary centres diagnose ~50 cases of MUO per year, indicating that hundreds of dogs are affected throughout the United Kingdom every year but to date, this category of diseases in dogs is poorly researched and has no effective cure.

Current treatment is based on immune modulation; typically, with high dose corticosteroids alone or combined with a pyrimidine analogue (cytosine arabinoside) or other immunomodulatory drugs, leaving veterinarians treating affected dogs with various MUO with unspecific anti-inflammatory protocols that are not particularly effective. There is an urgent need to discover what triggers this disease to inform the future development of improved treatments and more targeted therapies.

We are looking for a highly motivated veterinary graduate with an interest in neurology and immunology. In this PhD project, we will use techniques such as multi-parameter flow cytometry with panels of antibodies against a broad range of immune cells and multiplex cytokine analysis to profile clinical samples from dogs with MUO.

The overall aim of this project is to test the hypothesis that MUO has a distinctive immune profile, characterization of which, will improve our understanding of aetiopathogenesis and assist with the diagnosis and treatment of MUO.

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at http://www.bris.ac.uk/pg-howtoapply. Please select <Veterinary Science  (4yr) (PhD) > on the Programme Choice page. You will be prompted to enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form.

Candidate requirements:  Standard University of Bristol eligibility rules apply. Please visit PhD Veterinary Sciences | Study at Bristol | University of Bristol for more information.

The candidate must be MRCVS or hold a veterinary qualification than can enable registration with the RCVS. Previous experience in Veterinary Neurology is advantageous although not essential.

Funding: The PhD is jointly funded by The Langford Trust and The Maxwell Trust.

Contacts: Professor Linda Wooldridge: linda.wooldridge@bristol.ac.uk

Dr Angela Fadda: et18041@bristol.ac.uk

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