ILRI-DAAD PhD Scholarship: Cystic Echinococcosis-Distribution and genetic diversity

Mar 2, 2016Past opportunities, ZooLink project

ILRI works with partners worldwide to enhance the roles that livestock play in food security and poverty alleviation, principally in Africa and Asia. The outcomes of these research partnerships help people in developing countries keep their farm animals’ alive and productive, increase and sustain their livestock and farm productivity, find profitable markets for their animal products, and reduce the risk of livestock-related diseases.

ILRI is a not-for-profit institution with a staff of about 700 and in 2016, an operating budget of about USD 83 million. A member of the CGIAR Consortium working for a food-secure future, ILRI has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, a principal campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and offices in other countries in East, West and Southern Africa and in South, Southeast and East Asia.

DAAD is a German Academic Exchange service which is a publicly funded, self-governing organization of the institutions of higher education in Germany. DAAD promotes international academic exchange as well as educational co-operation with developing countries through a variety of funding and scholarship programs.

ILRI Research Project: ZooLinK project

The project described below will be linked to the UK Research Council and UK DFID funded Zoonoses in Livestock in Kenya (ZooLinK) project (  The goal of ZooLinK is to enable Kenya to develop an effective surveillance programme for zoonoses (meaning infectious diseases acquired through contact with animals or their products), which is, by design, integrated across both human and animal health sectors. To achieve this goal we are working in close collaboration with Kenyan government departments, working in western Kenya initially and using this as a model for a national programme.  In Kenya, and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, far-reaching changes are occurring in the agricultural sector, with major changes in livestock production systems in order to satisfy increased demand for livestock products. The most important changes are the commercialization and intensification of what was previously subsistence farming, resulting in changes in trading patterns (e.g. the distances that livestock and their products are transported), and changes in favored breeds and input supply systems. All of these affect the risk of zoonoses and other infectious diseases.  While this PhD project will benefit from support and infrastructure in ZooLinK, it will retain its own scientific aims.  Students will nonetheless be part of our team’s wider PhD cohort.

Graduate Fellowship Project Title:  Cystic Echinococcosis: Distribution and genetic diversity

The position:

Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is a zoonotic disease involving dogs, livestock and humans, caused by the larval stage of the tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus. CE has a worldwide distribution and is of public health importance in areas where extensive livestock farming is practiced. It is emerging and re-emerging disease in many parts of the world with a particular impact in developing countries. Previous studies on CE in Kenya have concentrated in Turkana and Maasailand, however recent studies have shown a wider distribution of the disease in the country. There is no available data on CE in Western Kenya, though livestock slaughtered in this area mainly originate from CE endemic areas. Infection in humans will be determined by ultra sound scanning, while infection in livestock will be determined by slaughter house surveys, whereas faecal samples from dogs will be collected and analyzed by copro-antigen method. Molecular tools will be used to determine genetic diversity and transmission dynamics of the parasite which are important for disease surveillance and control programmes.

Aim 1: To determine the infection rate of CE in humans, livestock and dogs in Western Kenya

Aim 2:  To determine Echinococcus species/strains in humans, livestock and dogs in Western Kenya

Aim 3: To establish the genetic variability (haplotypes) of the parasite

Aim 4: To determine the socioeconomic impact of CE in Western Kenya

The students will be trained on data collection methods, immunological techniques (copro-antigen), molecular and bioinformatics tools for genetic diversity and analytical tools for socioeconomic impact.   The student will be attached to a larger project on zoonoses ( operated out of ILRI and will join a community of students and more senior researchers on that programme.


  • Data collection: Human ultra sound scanning in hospitals (part of the ZooLinK project), collection of cystic material from slaughter houses, dog faecal sampling, prospective and retrospective data collection from humans and livestock.
  • Laboratory methods: Tissue processing, copro-antigen detection, nested polymerase chain reaction and sequencing.

Essential Skills and Qualifications will include:

  • Background in biological sciences or veterinary medicine
  • MSc in a relevant subject

Location:                     ILRI Laboratory in Busia, Kenya
Duration:                     3 years

Terms of appointment: ILRI will offer a competitive stipend to cover living expenses in the project location(s). The successful candidate will be supervised jointly by an ILRI scientist and the university/academic supervisor.

How to apply:

Interested applicants should submit the following documents;

  • A cover letter explaining your interest in the position, what you can bring to the job and the names and addresses (including telephone and email) of three referees who are knowledgeable about your professional qualifications and work experience to the Director, People and Organizational Development by clicking on the “Apply Now” tab above before 18th March 2016.  The position title and reference number:  PHDAB2/DAAD/02/2016  should be clearly indicated in the subject line of the cover letter.
  • Curriculum Vitae without photograph; please use the europass CV template at
  • Certified copies of all university degree certificates
  • Certified copies of all university transcripts
  • At least temporary University admission letter including fee structure of respective course (original or certified copy only), or an official letter assuring admission. If this is not available by the closing date for application; please include with the application a commitment letter that you will have obtained this by 1st September 2016 as this is a mandatory requirement before commencing the fellowship program.
  • PhD research proposal and a detailed work plan (10 to 15 pages); plagiarism will be checked! The proposal has to be in line with the above outlined ILRI’s research project.
  • Abstract of the proposal on one page (please include name and title of proposal)
  • Where applicable a recommendation letter by head of department indicating that you are a present or prospective member of staff and how you will be integrated into the staff development agenda of the university (original only)
  • Confirmation of study leave from your university (if applicable)
  • Confirmation of teaching release (university staff members only)

The scholarships are only awarded to citizens of Sub-Saharan African countries (SSA)

We thank all applicants for their interest in working for ILRI. Due to the volume of applications, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

ILRI does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview meeting, processing or training). ILRI also does not concern itself with information on applicants’ bank accounts.

To find out more about ILRI visit our website at

To find out more about working at ILRI visit our website at

Suitably qualified women and citizens of developing countries, with experience of working internationally, are particularly encouraged to apply.

Click here to Apply

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