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Internship position available
Internship position in wildlife pathology available at Centre for Fish and Wildlife Health, University of Bern
Residency position available
Great Western Exotics. Part of Vets Now Swindon opens call for resident position in avian medicine and surgery.
Available Residency Positions
Residency position (Avian specialty) available at the Clinic for Birds and Reptiles, University of Leipzig, Germany
Vacant PhD position
PhD scholarship on giant panda reproduction available at Ghent University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
Related Conferences
2nd Annual European Croc Networking Meeting will be held at Eskilstrup, DK, October 6-8th, 2017
Residency position available
University of Bristol, School of Veterinary Sciences is offering a Residency (MSc) in Veterinary Science - Zoological Medicine
Vacant PhD position
PhD scholarship on giant panda reproduction available at Ghent University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

The Laboratory of Chemical Analysis, Department of Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety (DI06) aims to

recruit a motivated PhD student with analytical interest, skills and/or knowledge to perform dedicated

international research related to giant panda reproduction. This research will be performed in collaboration with

the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP), Edinburgh Zoo-RZSS,

Edinburgh University and Pairi Daiza.


Successful captive breeding in the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) remains a challenging process. The

narrow window of fertility (1-3 days per annual mating season) is usually identified based by monitoring the

oestrogen levels in urine. Oestrogen levels start to rise less than two weeks prior to ovulation in conjunction

with animal behavioural changes.

After natural mating or artificial insemination, reliable confirmation of successful conception is hampered by

the lack of highly specific and sensitive biomarkers. Diagnosis of true pregnancy (with implantation of the

embryo) is furthermore compromised by embryonal diapause with delayed implantation and the occurrence

of pseudopregnancy, rendering indistinguishable progesterone profiles compared to true pregnancy during

primary progesterone rise (probably representing embryonal diapause) and secondary progesterone rise (active

luteal phase including implantation and true pregnancy). Additionally, foetal loss is suspected to occur in a

substantial fraction of bred, but non-birth females. However, as yet, foetal loss cannot be identified during

conventional longitudinal monitoring of the active luteal phase despite exploring multiple single-compound

rapid immuno assays, therefore also compromising the follow-up of a successful end-term pregnancy.

To assist in giant panda reproduction with prediction of upcoming oestrus, confirmation of conception,

discrimination of pregnancy from pseudopregnancy and longitudinal monitoring of successful end-term

pregnancy (and thus identifying potential foetal loss), and to unravel the giant panda’s reproductive physiology

(embryonal diapause, delayed implantation, (pseudo)pregnancy), we aim to explore the metabolic urinary and

faecal profiles in non-bred, successfully bred and non-successfully bred giant pandas based on an integrated

analytical technique applying (un)targeted, multi-compound ultra-high performance liquid chromatography

(UHPLC) – high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS). The analytical results of this study will be correlated

with the physiological relevance as well as behavioural observations and managements’ aspects and may be

– in future – extrapolated to the population in the wild.

The introduction of (un)targeted metabolomics in the reproductive biology of A. melanoleuca will assure

major progress in current knowledge, and will eventually allow better understanding of conditions leading to

(non-)conception, pseudopregnancy, foetal loss and full term pregnancy, hereby promoting current

conservation programs and optimizing current diagnostic approaches.

Consequently, this research proposal aims to make the bridge between state-of-the-art analytical technology

and in situ and ex situ breeding centres for wildlife species, more specifically for the giant panda.


Degree: Master in Veterinary Medicine (preferentially), Biology or equivalent.

Students graduating in July 2017 are encouraged to apply. No concrete work experience is required, however,

candidates should at least show interest in analytical techniques (e.g. UHPLC-HRMS) and research in general.

You need to prove having obtained the minimal degree of ‘distinction’ upon graduation.

Please read further (restricting) guidelines on:


Communicative skills (speaking and written language) in English are mandatory.


Send your curriculum vitae, including yearly lists with obtained study credits, and a motivation letter to Jella

Wauters (, with prof. dr. Lynn Vanhaecke in cc ( before

the 1st of July 2017.

Candidates will be invited between the 3rd and 7th of July, with final selection shortly after. The selected

candidate will apply for an FWO-SB fellowship (see higher), with project deadline 15th of September (and a

project defence between October-December 2017). In case of successful defence, the candidate will be granted

with a four-year research budget (including salary and modest bench fee).

In case of any questions, please contact Jella Wauters (

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