Jobs & Fellowships

2 PhD Studentships (Deadline 10th November)

October 25, 2017
Studentship 1:
Characterising immune responses to fractional doses of Yellow Fever vaccines in East African adults
Location:  Kilifi
Country:  Kenya
Supervisor:  Dr. George Warimwe, Prof. Philip Bejon

Yellow Fever virus is endemic in 34 countries in Africa, causing at least 130,000 symptomatic cases and 80,000 deaths in Africa every year. Life-long immunity can be conferred by a single dose of a highly effective vaccine, but this has not translated to sustainable control as a result of difficulties with vaccine supply. Vaccine production relies on laborious processes and capacity to produce increased stock in response to outbreaks is limited. In 2015, UNICEF estimated the total country forecasts to be 64 million doses per year, exceeding current availability of vaccines by 42%. The limits of preventive activities have led to periodic major outbreaks and the stockpile of doses to respond to these is inadequate. Efficient use of available stock is therefore essential. Previous data suggest that fractional doses (i.e. using one fifth of a standard full dose) are likely to be sufficiently immunogenic to produce responses above the internationally recognized threshold for protection.
In this DPhil project we will conduct a vaccine trial comparing full dose versus fractional doses of a licensed yellow fever vaccine in healthy Adults in coastal Kenya.

The primary objective will be to determine the minimum dose of yellow fever vaccine that is non-inferior to full dose as regards proportion of serological responses above the protective threshold 28 days after vaccination. Secondary objectives will include assessments of immunogenicity at 10 days and at 1 year post-vaccination, assessment of interference of cross-reactive flavivirus antibodies (i.e. antibodies against Dengue, Zika, West Nile, Uganda S viruses etc.) with YF vaccine immune response, assessment of post-vaccination control of viraemia by vaccine dose, and assessment of vaccine-linked adverse events. The data generated by this project will inform decisions on the future use of fractional vaccine doses for the control of yellow fever.

To apply, click here.

Studentship 2:
Estimating exposure to alphaviral infections in Coastal Kenya
Location: Kilifi
Country:  Kenya
Supervisor:  Dr George Warimwe


Alphaviruses cause significant human morbidity and mortality globally, but the true burden of alphaviral disease in Africa remains unknown. Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), which causes recurrent epidemics of acute, often chronic, debilitating polyarthralgia and polyarthritis, has received most attention. The largest documented CHIKV epidemic emerged in coastal Kenya in 2004 and is estimated to have affected >70% of the population in Lamu and spread along the coast to Mombasa and islands on the Indian Ocean. An outbreak of CHIKV has since occurred in Mandera, and exposure to CHIKV and other alphaviruses has been reported in other parts of East Africa. However, current epidemiological understanding of CHIKV and other alphaviral infections is largely derived from descriptions of epidemics and from very limited cross-sectional surveys in non-epidemic periods, usually by serology and qRT-PCR detection among potential cases. Such studies are clearly essential to characterize epidemics and to provide a snapshot of viral exposure at a single time point. However they provide limited information on long-term virus transmission trends and inter-epidemic disease incidence. Such data are best acquired through longitudinal studies spanning epidemic and inter-epidemic periods.

To address this gap we seek a PhD student to utilize a unique biobank of samples at KWTRP to study alphavirus transmission and disease trends over a 27-year period. The biobank includes samples from individuals participating in long-term longitudinal cohorts, acute febrile hospital admissions, and collections of various mosquito species, among others.  Specifically, the PhD student will use established serology and / or qRT-PCR approaches to determine:

  1. The temporal frequency and age profiles of antibody seroprevalence to alphaviruses. The age profiles will allow quantification of intra-epidemic transmission and the year-to-year variability will allow quantification of inter-epidemic transmission.
  2. The temporal frequency, age profiles and genotypic diversity of alphavirus viraemia.
  • The prevalence of alphavirus carriage in mosquito vectors along the Kenyan coast
  • Alphavirus antibody seroprevalence in a cross-sectional sample of non-human primates in coastal Kenya

To apply, click here.