PhD in animal welfare (UK) ~ Bioblogia.net

28 de diciembre de 2015

PhD in animal welfare (UK)

We are looking for candidates who may be interested in a PhD studentship based at the University of Bristol and Newcastle University investigating a novel method of welfare assessment in domestic dogs. The project has been short-listed for funding by UFAW and requires a named PhD student for the final stage of application. The studentship investigates “Telomere length as a novel measure of cumulative life experience in domestic dogs” and would be supervised by Dr Rachel Casey (Bristol), Prof Melissa Bateson (Newcastle) and Dr Lucy Asher (Newcastle). The project is described briefly below:

Telomeres are nucleoprotein ‘caps’ on the end of linear chromosomes which act to protect them from recombination, fusion and being broken down as damaged DNA. Because telomeres do not replicate as effectively as the rest of the chromosome, they become shorter each time the cell divides and hence telomere length decreases with age. In people, an increased rate of telomere attrition has been associated with environmental and psychosocial stress (e.g. poor caregiving environments in childhood) suggesting alterations in the rate of shortening as a potential biomarker of cumulative stress exposure. In this study we use the domestic dog as a model to investigate telomere attrition as an indicator of naturally occurring cumulative experience in domestic animals. The study uses a dog birth cohort study in which puppies between birth and 16 weeks of age are recruited and followed prospectively through life with owner questionnaires, biological samples and veterinary health records. The primary aim of the project is to investigate whether rate of telomere attrition varies between dogs exposed to naturally occurring stressors in this population over both short and longer term time frames, as compared to unaffected controls.

Further information about the use of telomere attrition as a measure of animal welfare can be found in a recent review: Bateson, M. (2015). Cumulative stress in research animals. BioEssays. doi: 10.1002/bies.201500127

If you are interested in this opportunity and have a Bachelors or Masters degree in veterinary medicine, animal behaviour, psychology, animal science or biosciences please get in touch with Dr Rachel Casey (Rachel.Casey@bristol.ac.uk).

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