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University of the Sunshine Coast (USC)

  • 20% international / 80% domestic

Chlamydia Diagnostics Scholarship

Key details

Number Offered

About this scholarship

Chlamydia infections impact significantly on domestic sheep production and Australia’s live export trade. This project will provide training in veterinary microbiology as part of a project assessing the impact of chlamydial infections in sheep and to improve the laboratory diagnosis of ovine chlamydial pathogens, Chlamydia pecorum and Chlamydia abortus.

As part of his expanding research program into chlamydial diseases in Australian livestock, Assoc Prof Adam Polkinghorne, is offering a ‘Chlamydia Diagnostics’ PhD scholarship focused on improving the serological diagnosis of chlamydial infections in domestic and live export sheep. This work is supported by a recently awarded Australian Research Council Linkage Project Grant awarded to Assoc Prof Polkinghorne at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Sheep are known to be primarily infected by two chlamydial species, Chlamydia pecorum and Chlamydia abortus. The former pathogen is endemic in Australia and is responsible for important economic losses for prime lamb producers. The latter is a globally distributed cause of ovine abortion, however, Australia is thought to be free of this pathogen.

Diagnosis of these chlamydial pathogens in sheep is reliant on the use of serological tests (e.g. complement fixation tests) with questionable sensitivity and specificity, raising questions over the accurate diagnosis of chlamydial infections in sheep that contribute to our overall understanding of the health status of Australia’s sheep flock. In the current project, the successful PhD candidate will (i) investigate the economic impact of chlamydial infections on prime lamb production; (ii) explore the use of alternative serological diagnostic approaches for specific detection of chlamydial pathogens in sheep. The project will involve close collaboration with a range of veterinary stakeholders, offering the candidate good industry experience and the opportunity to collaborate with other national and international research partners.

While Assoc Prof Polkinghorne’s team already has most of the research methodologies and techniques in place, and therefore the new students will be able to learn these techniques during their project from an existing team of PhD students and research fellows, preference for places will be given to applicants who can demonstrate that they already have some experience with a range of relevant laboratory skills, such as, (a) immunological assays (ELISA, cytokine assays); (b) PCR – standard, quantitative, real time; and/or (c) in vitro tissue culture.

For more information, contact A/Prof Adam Polkinghorne (apolking@usc.edu.au).


Domestic student or International HDR student at USC
Bachelors Degree with First Class Honours or equivalent previous study, relevant work experience, research publications, or other research experience
Maintain satisfactory progress
Not hold an equivalent qualification to the one currently being applied for
Not have previously held a Commonwealth-funded postgraduate research scholarship unless it was terminated within six months of the current scholarship’s payments commencing
Not be the recipient of an equivalent award, scholarship, or salary, providing a benefit greater than 75 percent of the RTP rate to undertake a HDR. Income unrelated to the course of study is not to be taken into account.


  • Academic qualifications
  • Alignment of the proposed research to one of USC’s areas of research concentration
  • Record of research publications
  • Professional research experience


Stipend commensurate with the RTP rate (2017 rate - A$26,682) and Tuition Fees.


Eligible Degrees
  • Masters (Research)
  • Female
  • Male