PhD Fellowship in Micro-Rnas and Extracellular Vesicles as Novel Diagnostic and Prognostic Markers for the Equine Bloodworm
University of Copenhagen

PhD fellowship in micro-RNAs and extracellular vesicles as novel diagnostic and prognostic markers for the equine bloodworm at Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences

We are offering a 3 year PhD fellowship in micro-RNAs and extracellular vesicles as novel diagnostic and prognostic markers for the equine bloodworm (Strongylus vulgaris) commencing 1 January 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Our group and research

The Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences is subdivided into seven sections and the PhD fellow will be included in the Section for Medicine and Surgery based at Taastrup Campus. The Section's priorities are clinically applied research in large animal diseases and welfare (equine, bovine and small ruminants) as well as clinical and didactic teaching.

The PhD fellow will be part of a unique, international network of dedicated researchers within equine acute gastroenterology, parasitology and clinical pathology. We are based at four different Universities (Copenhagen, Aarhus, Kentucky and Uppsala). This study rely on laboratory techniques already established (for assessment of miRNA in other species) in our group in Copenhagen and Aarhus. Relevant samples for the study are available from horses naturally infected with S. vulgaris at University of Kentucky as well as from horses infected with S. vulgaris and suffering from thromboembolic colic admitted to the two Veterinary University hospitals in Denmark and Sweden.

Project description

Strongylus vulgaris is the most pathogenic intestinal parasite in horses. It causes arteritis, thrombosis of mesenteric arteries and intestinal infarcts, which may lead to intestinal rupture and death of the horse. Prevalence has increased in Scandinavia in recent years, perhaps related to restricted drug use. This study aims to improve early identification of horses infected with the parasite or horses with thromboembolic pathology. The objectives of the study are to identify extracellular vesicles containing proteins and miRNAs excreted from intravascular migrating S. vulgaris larvae and miRNAs from the horse associated to vascular injury and thrombosis. These investigations will lead not only to understanding of disease mechanisms, but also serve to identify novel diagnostic markers of migrating S. vulgaris and support earlier and more targeted treatment strategies. Improved diagnostic, preventive and treatment options will support the legislative prescription-only use of anthelmintic drugs and reduce the risk of parasites developing resistance to available drugs.

Principal supervisor is Associate Professor Tina Holberg Pihl, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences,, Direct Phone: +45 22629325. Co-supervisors are Professor Stig Milan Thamsborg, Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Professor Lise Nikolic Nielsen, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences and Professor Peter Lindberg Nejsum, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University.

Job description

The PhD fellow will perform the collection of larvae and blood samples at University of Kentucky and help coordinate blood sampling and data collection from horses with colic in Denmark and Sweden. The PhD fellow will participate in the laboratory work related to the EV isolation and miRNA analyses.

International travel to and stays at collaborating laboratories will be required. Full training will be available. You will also take part in limited teaching or other types of dissemination related to your project.

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants

  • Qualifications corresponding to a master’s degree in veterinary medicine (DVM)
  • Fluency in written and spoken English and Danish

Applicants with the following professional and personal qualifications will be highly advantaged:

  • High grade point average achieved
  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  • Experimental animal liscense
  • Published work
  • Postgraduate or relevant work experience
  • Curious mind-set with a strong interest in equine gastrointestinal medicine and parasitology
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Well-developed collaborative skills and a team player

Place of employment

The place of employment is at Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Taastrup Campus, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in dynamic and international research environment. Our research facilities include modern laboratories and equine hospital facilities.

Terms of employment

The employment as PhD fellow is full time and for 3 years. The working hours are 37 hours per week.

It is conditioned upon the applicant’s success­ful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the Faculty’s rules on achieving the degree. Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agree­ment between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary begins around 27.793 DKK / approx. 3.679 EUR (April 2020-level) plus pension.


For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor.

General information about PhD study at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is available at the Graduate School’s website:

Application procedure

Your application must be submitted electronically by clicking ‘Apply now’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format: 

1. Motivated letter of application stating why you consider yourself an ideal candidate for the position (max. one page)

2. Project description (max. one page) describing how you imagine your role in the project

3. CV incl. education, work or other relevant experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position

4. Doctor of Veterinary Medicine diploma and transcript of records. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor will do

5. Publication list (if possible)

6. References

Application deadline: 16th August 2020, 23.59pm CET

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee (shortlisting). All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor.

The assessor makes a non-prioritized assessment of the academic qualifications and experience with respect to the above-mentioned area of research, techniques, skills and other requirements listed in the advertisement. Once the assessment work has been completed each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

You can read about the recruitment process at

The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the diversity of society and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences comprises approximately 7500 students, 1500 PhD students and 3200 employees. The Faculty advances the field of health sciences through its core activities: research, teaching, knowledge sharing and communication. With basic research fields ranging from molecular studies to studies of society, the Faculty contributes to a healthy future through its graduates, research findings and inventions benefitting patients and the community. The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position. 


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Tina Holberg Pihl


Application deadline: 16-08-2020
Employment start: 01-01-2021
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences

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