Master of Science by Research (MRes) Realising the potential of simple isothermal molecular tools for field diagnosis of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD)

Applications are invited for a one year funded Masters by Research (MRes) project registered with the University of Glasgow.

This project is funded by the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EuFMD) ( and offers a stipend of ?14,275 together with payment of University tuition fees. Commencing on or before March 3rd 2014 the student will conduct their studies at The Pirbright Institute (, a world leading centre of excellence in research and surveillance of viral diseases, in addition to leading field based studies in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa. Candidates should have or expect to achieve a first-class or upper-second-class Honours degree in a relevant science subject.


Principal Supervisor: Dr Veronica Fowler (Applied Diagnostics Research Coordinator)

Co Supervisors: Dr Donald King (Head of World Reference Laboratory), and Dr Valerie Mioulet (Head of Virology)

University Supervisor: Professor Sarah Cleaveland (Comparative Epidemiology, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine Graham Kerr Building University of Glasgow G12 8QQ)

Project overview

Accurate, timely diagnosis is essential for control, monitoring and eradication of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Currently, samples are tested at reference laboratories, a lengthy process which can delay critical decision making. Therefore, there is a requirement for rapid, sensitive tests that can be used in situ (Anderson, 2002; Royal Society 2002).

Isothermal loop-mediated amplification (LAMP: Notomi et al., 2000) provides a realistic solution to this problem. LAMP employs isothermal, autocyling, strand-displacement DNA synthesis utilising six primers to explosively amplify target genome. Importantly, LAMP can be performed using a water bath with results visualized using molecular lateral flow devices (LFD?s).

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Foot and Mouth Disease Virus (FMDV) RT-LAMP assays have been developed (Madhanmohan et al., 2013, Dukes et al., 2006; Li et al., 2009; Shao et al., 2010, Yamazaki et al., 2013) and modified to allow visualization on molecular LFD?s (Waters et al. in prep). With sensitivity equivalent to qRT-PCR (Callahan et al. 2002), these assays offer potential as a highly sensitive molecular field test.

However, a field based tool, must satisfy the three elements of a molecular test (sample preparation, amplification and detection), be in the format of a ?ready-to-use kit? and should utilize reagents compatible with environmental conditions found in the countries of deployment. Unfortunately, there are currently no publications describing sample preparation methods or reagents suitable for field deployment for a FMD RT-LAMP-LFD assay. For example, all reported evaluations of RT-LAMP for FMD diagnosis have been made using laboratory extracted RNA rather than raw clinical samples (e.g. epithelium). In addition, assay reaction mixes comprise individually added ?wet? reagents including temperature sensitive enzymes.?

This project has the following two aims:

  1. To develop to completion robust RT-LAMP protocols and associated assay reagent formats that are suitable for use in the field in EuFMD member states to help with rapid diagnosis during outbreaks, to improve control capacity in FMD free countries.
  2. To evaluate this RT-LAMP technology in endemic countries in the European neighbourhood (West Eurasia, sub-Saharan Africa, etc.) to improve national capacity in identification and control of FMD enabling forward movement in the progressive control pathway.

How to apply:

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Veronica Fowler

To apply please complete the online application form via the ‘Apply’ button below.

Closing date: 20th January 2014
Interviews: 3rd February 2014
Start date: By 3rd March 2014

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