An exchange of undergraduate students between Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin will see the first group of Plymouth students to travel to Germany working on a collaborative project to investigate viruses in badgers.
One long-term goal of this project (being performed as a larger study including UK and French colleagues at the Animal Health Veterinary Laboratories Agency) is to identify benign, non-disease causing viruses already present in the badger population that can used as a vaccine platform to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) from badgers to cattle. By increasing understanding of immunity to TB in general, it is anticipated that results from these studies may also enable the design of more efficacious vaccines for TB in humans.
Lucy Davison and Nicholas Lyons, two students from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences, will spend the summer in Berlin working with Dr. Bernhard Ehlers. Dr. Ehlers is currently working in partnership with Dr. Michael Jarvis from Plymouth University using state-of-the-art molecular techniques to search for viruses from a variety of different sources, including European badgers.
At the basis of the exchange programme is a larger educational aim to integrate undergraduate education with active scientific research. This is being achieved by using pre-existing international scientific networks of which Plymouth University academics are a part.
Dr. Michael Jarvis, Associate Professor in Virology and Immunology at Plymouth University and a Marie Curie Fellow, commented: “International exchange has always been an essential quality of Plymouth. Projects such as these embrace this characteristic of the city as well as harness the highly global interactive nature of world class science today.”
The present exchange project is funded by the Seale-Hayne Educational Trust, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences and is supported by the Robert Koch Institute.