PhD student “Staphylococcus aureus infection dynamics in cattle” Utrecht University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Netherlands

PhD student “Staphylococcus aureus infection dynamics in cattle” (1.0 FTE)


Job description

A PhD position on “Staphylococcus aureus infection dynamics in cattle” is available at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.


Staphylococcus aureus is a major opportunistic pathogen of animals and humans and can cause a range of diseases, mastitis in cattle to septicaemia in humans. Available vaccines against S. aureus for farm animals and humans show efficacy. Important gaps in our understanding of the pathogenesis of S. aureus infection hampers the development therapeutics, intervention strategies, and innovative tools for early diagnosis. Infection of farm animals with S. aureus major impact on animal health and welfare and leads to economic losses. It also affects public health through the use antimicrobials, transmission of (antibiotic resistant) strains, and the impact on food safety. A better understanding pathogen determinants that influence the epidemiology of S. aureus and the severity of S. aureus disease will aid in vaccine targets and developing management interventions.


In cattle, S. aureus is an important cause of mastitis and has a major impact on health and wellbeing. Recent research shown that cattle are the main reservoir from which novel human epidemic clones emerge. Using the bovine S. aureus infection model we aim to characterise host and pathogen factors that determine transmission, carriage/infection and severity. This project demands an interdisciplinary approach combining epidemiology, immunology and microbiology to our understanding of Staphylococcus aureus infection dynamics in cattle and combines collection of field samples with and experimental laboratory investigations. The following objectives will be addressed: i) molecular characterization aureus isolated from various niches within a cattle herd and estimation of the transmission potential and contribution aureus disease of different lineages; ii) longitudinal characterisation of S. aureus specific immune responses and their correlation with carriage, infection and disease severity; iii) Functional characterisation of putative virulence gene(s) play role in transmission or disease severity.


This project is a collaboration between the Department of Farm animal health and the Department of Infectious diseases Immunology and is part of the One Health research programme of Utrecht University.


We are looking for a motivated and enthusiastic candidate with a broad interest in all aspects of infection biology, from work to lab-based experiments to quantitative epidemiological analyses. The candidate should have good communication be flexible and enjoy to work in a multidisciplinary team. The applicant must hold at least a relevant Master’s degree Science (e.g. Infection and immunity, Veterinary medicine, Epidemiology, Animal science, Biology). Hands on experience least one of the core disciplines (epidemiology, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology) is highly desirable.


We offer a full-time position, initially for a period of one year with the perspective of prolongation with another three years. The appointment should lead to a dissertation.


The gross monthly salary is based on experience and qualifications, and ranges from a minimum of €2,325 to a maximum of 2,972 (i.e. salary scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities) on a fulltime basis. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8,3%.

Utrecht University offers excellent secondary benefits including collective insurance schemes, an excellent pension scheme and flexible employment conditions. For more information: Working at Utrecht University.

About the organization
A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine has a unique position in the Netherlands. Not only is this the only institution where veterinarians are trained, researchers are also working together on innovative scientific research. In addition, the Faculty provides specialist clinical care in the largest academic veterinary hospital in Europe. Thanks to this position, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is a point of contact for all veterinary matters, both nationally and increasingly internationally. The Faculty employs approximately 900 veterinarians, scientists and support staff and counts 1,500 students.

The Department of Farm Animal Health focuses on the three core tasks of education, research and patient care. However patient care at the Department of Farm Animal Health facilitates education and research. In our research and education, pay attention to the individual animal, but to an increasing degree also to larger groups of farm animals. The veterinary provided by the Department also focuses on this issue.

Additional information
For more information, please contact Lindert Benedictus (


Please do not send your application letter to this e-mail address.

To apply, please send your curriculum vitae and a motivation letter via the apply button below.


Job interviews will be held between 8-18 April 2019.


The starting date of the appointment is flexible, but with an intended starting date of June 2019.


The application deadline is

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