ARS Office/Lab and Location: A research opportunity is currently available with the Foreign Animal Disease Research Unit (FADRU) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) located in Orient Point, New York.
The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency with a mission to find solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans every day from field to table. ARS will deliver cutting-edge, scientific tools and innovative solutions for American farmers, producers, industry, and communities to support the nourishment and well-being of all people; sustain our nation’s agroecosystems and natural resources; and ensure the economic competitiveness and excellence of our agriculture. The vision of the agency is to provide global leadership in agricultural discoveries through scientific excellence.
PIADC is the only U.S. laboratory facility performing research, development and diagnosis of foreign animal diseases of highest threat to the U.S. This critical national asset is located off the northeast coast of Long Island, NY, and accessible by government-provided ferry from Orient Point, NY, and Old Saybrook, CT. Research at PIADC is performed on animal diseases that threaten the nation’s animal industries and exports.
One of the missions of FADRU is to investigate foreign animal diseases (FADs) in their endemic settings to help mitigate the risks of catastrophic economic losses caused by these pathogens in the event of accidental or deliberate introduction to the United States.
Research Project: This research opportunity will involve the study of the molecular mechanisms encoded by African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) proteins and their role in antagonizing immune responses including those elicited by innate immunity signaling and antigen presentation pathways. Using distinct genetic and biochemical assays and microscopy imaging techniques, the participant will examine the distinct aspects of immune modulation by ASFV proteins.
Under the guidance of a mentor, the participant will develop high throughput assays to identify protein candidates by using distinct reporter assays for faster readout. In detail evaluation of the impact of individual ASFV protein on IFN signaling and antigen presenting pathway will require refined mechanistic experiments using endogenous readouts in ASFV susceptible cell substrates (porcine kidney cells and swine macrophages) and use of ASFV recombinant virus carrying the deletion of the protein candidate. Evaluation of the differences in the pathophysiological roles of ASFV WT vs ASFV deleted mutant will be conducted by analyzing the cellular transcriptome to expand our knowledge on the contribution of ASFV proteins in modulating immune responses.
Learning Objectives: Under the guidance of a mentor, the participant may be involved in the following activities:
- Study of virus-host interactions to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in blocking immune responses
- Design and develop experiments for high throughput assays
- Develop effective transfection techniques in ASFV susceptible cell lines including porcine kidney cells and swine macrophages
- ASFV infection in susceptible cell lines
- Live imaging confocal microscopy
- Use of luciferase reporter assays
- Western blotting
- Single cell RNA sequencing
- Next generation sequencing
- Data analysis
- Drafting manuscripts reporting experimental results
Being stationed at PIADC offers the selected participant with the opportunity of learning to handle select agents in livestock species and managing select agent inventories. The participant will have the opportunity of participating in national and international meetings, workshops and training courses for the advancement of their scientific careers in foreign animal diseases and emerging infectious animal diseases.
Anticipated Appointment Start Date: As soon as a qualified candidate is identified. Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.
Appointment Length: The appointment will initially be for one year, but may be renewed upon recommendation of ARS and is contingent on the availability of funds.
Level of Participation: The appointment is full-time.
Participant Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience.
Citizenship Requirements: This opportunity is available to U.S. citizens only.
ORISE Information: This program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and ARS. Participants do not become employees of USDA, ARS, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. Health insurance can be obtained through ORISE.
The qualified candidate should be currently pursuing or have received a master’s or doctoral degree in one of the relevant fields.
The selected candidate must have or be eligible to obtain a high security clearance.
- A keen interest in the biology of virus-host interactions
- Experience in molecular biology techniques including cloning, PCR, sequencing, NGS, western blotting
- Experience in tissue culture techniques including primary and secondary cell lines
- Experience in microscopy imaging
- Motivated to solve complex problems by undertaking innovative approaches and applying state-of-the-art technologies
- Effective organizational and multi-tasking skills