PhD Position in Parasitology
University of Bern

PhD Position at the Institute of Parasitology

PhD topic: Triclabendazole resistance in Fasciola hepatica
PhD position from February 1st, 2024, or by appointment

The Institute of Parasitology in Bern carries out research on parasitic diseases of domestic and farm animals, and of humans. It is involved in teaching and diagnostic services and consulting.
In terms of research, we focus on the study of pathogenic processes that occur during parasite infections, on parasite biology as well as on the development of new therapeutic approaches and the interactions between parasites and drugs. The main topics of interest are zoonotic helminthiases (echinococcosis, fasciolosis), and abortion-causing protozoans (neosporosis, toxoplasmosis, tritrichomonosis). More information can be found under the following link:

Background of the project:
The trematode parasite Fasciola hepatica infects livers and bile ducts of a wide range of mammals. In Switzerland, F. hepatica is highly prevalent in domestic ruminants, which leads to loss in agricultural production. Human cases are rare in Europe, but relevant world-wide with an estimated 2.4 - 17 million people affected. Fasciolosis is considered a Neglected Tropical Disease by the WHO.
Multiple drugs are active against the adult stage of the parasite, but only one drug, triclabendazole, can kill the juvenile parasites that cause the more severe, acute symptoms. Triclabendazole is the only drug approved to treat fasciolosis in humans. Over the last two decades, increasing numbers of reports have been published about triclabendazole resistance in F. hepatica. It is currently not know how frequent drug resistance is in Swiss F. hepatica. Even though, multiple research groups have published molecular and cell biological studies on triclabendazole resistance, the mechanisms are not well understood.

The aim of the project is to obtain data on the occurrence of triclabendazole resistance in Switzerland and to gain new insights on the molecular mechanisms of the resistance. The project starts with sample collection whereby the PhD candidate will collect F. hepatica parasites from condemned livers at the abattoir. The parasites will then be tested in vitro for their susceptibility to the drug triclabendazole. Once a number of sensitive and resistant parasite populations have been collected, their DNA will be isolated and sent for pooled Whole-Genome sequencing. Population genomic analyses will then be applied to map the loci associated with resistance in the F. hepatica genome and search for candidate genes and mutations responsible for the resistance.

The candidate should have a Master's degree in natural sciences, veterinary or human medicine. A strong interest in parasitology and genetics are essential for carrying out this project. Basic knowledge and previous experience in molecular biology, sterile cell culture and/or genetics are an advantage. The project involves sample collection, wet lab work, as well as bioinformatics; therefore, the person should be happy to be involved in such a broad range of different tasks. The candidate should further be highly motivated, curious, perseverant and creative. Fluent English skills are required and basic German skills are an advantage to communicate with the staff at the abattoir.
We offer
The PhD position will be embedded in the freshly established Fasciola group funded by an Ambizione grant of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).
The enthusiastic new PI, Natalie Wiedemar, did her Dr. med. vet at the Institute of Genetics in Bern, followed by a PhD at the Swiss TPH in Basel and postdoctoral research at the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research in Dundee, Scotland. Her areas of expertise are (parasite) genomics, parasite drug resistance and drug targets investigations. She is keen on passing on her knowledge and teach the PhD candidate.
There is a regular exchange and collaborations with the other groups at the Institute of Parasitology and good connections to the Institute of Genetics in Bern. The group is further well connected to a number of national and international collaborators.
The PhD student will be part of the Graduate School of Cellular and Biomedical Sciences of the University of Bern ( The salary calculations follow the guidelines of the University of Bern and the SNSF.
The city of Bern offers a high life-quality, it is located close to the Alps and well connected to other European cities.
Questions can be directly addressed to the group leader PhD, Dr. med. vet. Natalie Wiedemar (
Applications (cover letter, CV, certificates and 2 references) should be submitted as a single PDF document to Barbara Gautschi ( by November 30th, 2023

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Bioloxy


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