Developing a rapid snakebite Diagnostic Test as a clinical and epidemiological tool for sub-Saharan Africa

This project aims to significantly reduce prevailing delay-to-treatment of rural African snakebite victims by developing a rapid diagnostic test for ultimate use at either the community site of the snakebite or on admission to hospital -  substantially improving the accuracy and outcomes of snakebite treatment to thereby reduce deaths and disability.

The candidate will undertake experiments examining/developing DNA and protein/antibody based approaches to detect snake species-specific DNA or venom proteins – testing these first in the laboratory and then on wound swabs, blood and urine of snakebite victims.

Whilst technically demanding, the candidate will be supported by a highly motivated and experienced team of scientists at LSTM and our partners in Nigeria and Kenya providing numerous opportunities to advance the student’s early scientific career through skills-acquisition, publications, presentations at conferences and becoming part of global research networks - and part of the process of translating lab results into new, urgently-needed clinical tools.

Where does the project lie on the Translational Pathway?

T1 (Basic Research) – T2 (Human/Clinical Research)

Expected Outputs

Technical Outputs:

- Development and laboratory validation of new snakebite diagnostics for envenoming by African snakes

Institutional Impact:

- Delivery of early phase diagnostic product ready for translation for use managing snakebite in Africa

- REF-returnable publications and Impact Case Study

Student Career Enhancement:

- Acquisition of a variety of laboratory technical skills

- Opportunities and mentorship to present biomedical research designed to address a neglected tropical disease at national and international conferences and thus become immersed in global research networks

- Opportunities and mentorship to publish high-impact and REF-returnable papers (minimum 3 papers/PhD is expected) 

- Potential opportunity to experience different academic environments with our collaborators in Nigeria or Kenya

- Numerous opportunities at LSTM to understand the diverse cultural, fiscal and medical barriers to good health in rural remote tropical regions

Future Funding:

- If merited, the student will be encouraged & mentored to submit an Early Career Fellowship


Training Opportunities

The student will be exposed to a wide variety of research training opportunities, as they will join a well-funded, multi-disciplinary and dynamic team of post docs, students and technicians. Thus, they will have an opportunity to acquire additional clinical and lab skill sets to those described above. In terms of career development, the student will receive ample and diverse training commensurate with developing an appropriately competitive CV for acquiring funding to support their career after the PhD.

Skills Required

A biomedical science background would be desirable. In addition, any prior experience or knowledge of molecular biology, immunology and/or antibodies, or diagnostic tests, would be helpful, but not essential. Critical thinking skills, a passion for research, and a meticulous nature, are highly sought after.


Key Publications associated with this project


Deadline: Thursday 11th February 2021; 12:00 noon GMT

Further details on the MRC/DTP and CASE programmes and application guidance and process can be found here