Applications are welcomed for an exciting new training prospect in the molecular and cellular biology of intracellular parasitism. Toxoplasma gondii is an opportunistic protozoan parasite that can cause severe disease (encephalitis, retinitis, birth defects) in humans and animals. Considered a paradigm for intracellular parasitism, T. gondii is easily grown in culture, has excellent animal models, and is readily amenable to genetic manipulation.

This project involves uncovering the heme metabolism in Toxoplasma parasites for their intracellular infections and investigating the application of the avirulent heme-deficient Toxoplasma parasites as a novel immunomodulator. Recently, our lab published a research article in PLOS Pathogens, characterizing the essential role of the plant-like heme biosynthetic pathway in Toxoplasma for its infections. These findings suggest that the heme metabolism is a potential druggable target for managing toxoplasmosis. Additionally, the complete loss of acute virulence in the heme-deficient parasites is a unique feature for them to serve as a microbial immunomodulator.

We aim to identify the molecular mechanism by which Toxoplasma parasites produce and regulate heme production and develop a novel immunomodulator using avirulent Toxoplasma parasites by using state-of-the-art molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology techniques along with animal models. The successful candidate will have an opportunity to help lead this project, including developing new methodologies, writing research manuscripts and proposals, and mentoring graduate and undergraduate students, en route to a career as an independent investigator.

The successful candidate is expected to
• solve research problems, assist in designing research methodologies, perform research, and summarize and share research results with the PI
• prepare proposals/fellowship applications for extramural and/or intramural funding
• present research results to faculty, students and/or other scientific staff
• prepare research results for publication in scholarly journals
• attend seminars and meetings
• assist in teaching and training of graduate, undergraduate, and other scientific staff

Candidates must have a Ph.D. and/or M.D., or equivalent degree. Previous experience in parasitology is not necessary. Competitive applicants will have a record of outstanding achievements and the potential for success as a leader in academic or industry research.
Application Instructions
To be considered for the role, you must submit a cover letter stating interests and career goals, a C.V. including a list of publications, and the contact info for three individuals willing to provide reference letters to http://apply.interfolio.com/95908. For full consideration, please apply by November 1, 2021. The position will remain posted until filled. Questions about the role can be submitted to Zhicheng Dou, zdou@clemson.edu. 

2. Graduate students for Ph.D. degree

I am looking for talented undergraduate or Master’s students with a great passion in biomedical research to join my lab for pursuing Ph.D. degrees in Biological Sciences or Microbiology programs. If you are interested in this opportunity, please send an email with a single pdf attachment, including a personal statement, CV, and transcripts, to zdou@clemson.edu.