Matthew Baylis and Gregory Hurst
Before the DTP I qualified as a Veterinary surgeon and also undertook an MSc in Veterinary science focussing on epidemiology and infectious disease.
The role of endosymbiotic bacteria in vectors of Schmallenberg and bluetongue viruses
Biting midges of the genus Culicoides are the vectors of bluetongue, Schmallenberg and African horse sickness. There are no effective control methods of the vectors and disease control therefore relies on vaccines which, given the rapid emergence/spread of the viruses, are often not available. There is increasing interest in the endosymbiotic bacteria present in many insect species, such as Wolbachia, as they present a novel means to control vector-borne diseases. They have been shown to suppress the infection of mosquitoes with several viruses and if introduced into an insect vector, the induced cytoplasmic incompatibility phenotype (embryo death when uninfected females mate with infected males) may drive the endosymbiont to 100% frequency in both sexes. My project aims to develop a greater understanding of the role played by the endosymbionts Cardinium and Rickettsia in the biology of biting midges, including any effects on their vector competence of viruses. This involves characterising tropisms of the bacteria within the insect as well as assessing their effects on viral tires utilising infection models.
Where did I get my PIPs
I have also recently undertaken a 3 month PIPS placement in Melbourne, Australia investigating the potential of sand flies as vectors of disease.
PIPS Internship Organisation Name
Bundoora, Melbourne, Australia
When deciding on your internship, what did you want to experience and what did you hope to gain from that experience?
I wanted to observe how scientists translate knowledge into practice in particular to understand the relationship between scientific work and policy development and implementation. I also wanted to spend time in a different country and a different lab which would give me an insight into how different institutions function between countries. Additionally I aimed to gain experience in new molecular techniques such as virus isolation which I had not undertaken before.
Did you get the experience you were expecting and did you achieve the personal development you had hoped to make?
Yes, I feel I gained new knowledge in new lab techniques as well as being exposed to policy-making procedures.
Has the internship made you feel differently about potential career options and has it helped to put the skills from research into a broader context?
Certainly the translation of diagnostic and molecular methods into reports designed to inform on public health policy has put the potential of my project's results into context. I enjoyed the internship to the extent that I would consider a government or policy-making career.