We are looking for a scientist for the project: opportunities for genetic selection for resistence for PRRS infection in pigs in Belgium!

Information on the project

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) is one of the most important swine pathogens. It is causing a continuously increasing severity of clinical signs due to a fast mutation rate, which drives the virus in the direction of infecting more and more subsets of macrophages. The vaccines lose control and therefore, it is important to find alternative ways to control PRRSV-related diseases. Selection for less susceptible pig breeds/genetic lines became a priority. Indications exist in the field that some Belgian lines of Piétrain pigs may be less susceptible against PRRS. With the present project, we want to examine the susceptibility of several pig breeds/genetic lines using in vitro models and link it with certain genes. In addition, it will be examined if the absence of immune responses after vaccination with attenuated vaccines is related to certain genes. With the identification of the involved genes, it will be possible to genotype pigs for the selection of more PRRS resistant pigs. This interdisciplinary project (virology, immunology, genetics) is funded by the FOD.


  • 3 years (possibility to extend to 4 years)
  • possibility to do a joint PhD at UGent/KULeuven
  • 3 work places: UGent (Laboratory of Virology – Prof. Hans Nauwynck), KULeuven (Centre for Animal Breeding and Genetics – Prof. Nadine Buys) and Sciensano (Viral reemerging enzootic and bee diseases – Marylène Tignon)

Profile of the candidate

  • Bioscience engineer, doctor in veterinary medicine, master in biomedical sciences, master in bioinformatics with a biology background (last year students are welcome)
  • Basic knowledge and interest in virology, immunology, genetics and bioinformatics
  • Very motivated to do research
  • Organizational talent (activities will be performed at three sites (KULeuven, UGent, Sciensano)
  • Team spirit (happy to work with other researchers)
  • Interested in valorization

If you want to apply, send a letter of interest and CV to Prof. Hans Nauwynck (hans.nauwynck@ugent.be), Prof. Nadine Buys (nadine.buys@kuleuven.be) and Marylène Tignon (marylene.tignon@sciensano.be) before June 15, 2024. If you have questions, contact one of the PIs.

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