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U.S. Department of Agriculture Hiring Zoonotic Virus Ebola , Marburg Experts Prepare For Outbreak

ARS Office/Lab and LocationA research opportunities are currently available with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) within the Rocky Mountain Laboratory located in Hamilton, Montana.

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.

Research Project: Highly pathogenic viruses continue to pose a significant threat to humans and animals with their potential to cause global public health crises. Zoonotic outbreaks have significantly impacted global public health and economic stability. The 2013 multi-country ebola outbreak resulted in over 11,000 deaths. The impact on human health provides a glimpse of the impact of this outbreak. 

The gross domestic product (GDP) growth in Liberia decreased from 8.7% to 0.7% and similar drops were seen in neighboring countries.

 Liberia lost an estimated 8% of healthcare providers. A significant disruption of other healthcare services occurred. In total, the estimated cost of the response exceeded 4 billion US dollars. The 1998 Nipah virus outbreak in Malaysia resulted in at least 109 human fatalities and the culling of 1.1 million pigs. It is estimated that almost 36,000 individuals lost their jobs due to the outbreak. Over the last decade, tremendous advances have been made in developing countermeasures to many high-consequence pathogens. Still, critical gaps remain in our arsenal to detect and curb new and emerging diseases.

Research will be performed at the Rocky Mountain Laboratory an NIH state-of-the-art biomedical research facility in Hamilton, Montana. Projects will be jointly performed with Dr. Andrea Marzi. The focus will be on the immunology and pathogenesis of high-consequence pathogens. Potential areas of study include the identification of viral and host factors driving pathogenicity; analysis of immune responses to vaccination and challenge to identify important components of protection; development of prophylactic and therapeutic strategies against emerging viruses. Depending on the project, conducting research in the biosafety level four laboratory may be required.

Learning Objectives: Participants will enhance the following as a result of participating in the project:

  • Knowledge of work in high containment
  • Basic understanding of the pathogenesis of filoviruses, henipaviruses and other high-consequence pathogens
  • Ability to perform basic and advanced virologic assays in maximum containment
  • Ability to perform basic and advanced immunologic assays in maximum containment
  • Knowledge of the challenges of inactivation of materials and ability to perform safety testing to confirm inactivation
  • Ability to prepare data for scientific presentation (i.e., abstracts, posters, presentations and papers)

Citizenship RequirementsThis opportunity is available to U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR), and foreign nationals. Non-U.S. citizen applicants should refer to the Guidelines for Non-U.S. Citizens Details page of the program website for information about the valid immigration statuses that are acceptable for program participation.

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