Paratuberculosis, commonly known as Johne’s disease, is a chronic intestinal disease of animals, particularly affecting ruminants such as cattle and sheep.


Paratuberculosis, commonly known as Johne’s disease, is a chronic intestinal disease of animals, particularly affecting ruminants such as cattle and sheep. The causative agent of this disease is Mycobacterium avium sub-species paratuberculosis (MAP) and infection with this organism is responsible for significant economic losses in ruminants in many countries including Australia. There are public health concerns with putative associations identified between MAP and Crohn’s disease in humans. The pathology and host immune response to MAP infection closely resembles the diseases caused by other mycobacteria, including tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) and leprosy (M. leprae) in humans. In the ruminant host, Johne’s disease is characterised by a long sub-clinical phase that can be a period of years. Clinical disease is invariably fatal, manifesting as wasting and diarrhoea. The immune mechanisms leading to progression from MAP exposure, through sub-clinical and finally to clinical Johne’s disease are poorly understood. Despite evidence of early immune mechanisms, the infection persists and animals shed MAP in faeces creating a source of infection for other animals in the herd/flock. Detection of animals in the early stages of the disease is problematic as there are no reliable tests available for sub-clinical infection, leading to persistence of infection. Although it is suspected that there may be some genetic resistance to the development of clinical disease, this is largely unexplored.  


Dr Auriol Purdie

Research Location

Faculty of Veterinary Science

Program Type



We are offering two Australian Livestock Industry Biotechnology PhD Scholarships for studies to commence in 2013. The PhD scholarships are for research into Johne’s disease and will be located at the University of Sydney, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Camden, NSW. Successful candidates will have the opportunity to study several aspects of Johne’s disease in relation to MAP infection in both cattle and sheep. Working within a large multidisciplinary and supportive team, the projects will use an established experimental infection model where MAP-exposed animals can be followed throughout the course of the disease, as well as the study of natural infection on commercial farms. These studentships’ will provide successful candidates with mentorship opportunities as well as career-readiness training and there is potential for the PhD students to work with international collaborators and to attend both national and international conferences. There is opportunity for students to study several aspects of Johne’s disease (for detailed information please contact Research Supervisor: Dr Purdie)      

Additional Information

Eligibility: These scholarships are available only to Australian or New Zealand residents who are also eligible for an APA/UPA scholarship. Application for an APA/UPA scholarship must be successful in order to receive this award ( Scholarships will commence in 2013. Scholarship terms: The scholarship provides a tax free ‘top-up’ amount of $15,000 per annum as a stipend for three years and is in addition to the tax free APA/UPA award of $23,728 p.a. (2012 rate). The total value of the combined scholarship is $38.728 p.a. (2012 rate). Interested candidates may contact the supervisors for further details, Dr Karren Plain and Professor Richard Whittington. To apply please submit a letter of application and relevant documentation outlining your suitability to Dr Aurio Purdie by the 31 October 2012

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Johne's disease, paratuberculosis

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1607