PhD and MSc Projects available

Department of Biology, University of Ottawa

Trudeau Lab

I am looking for graduate students interested in basic endocrine research and hormonal control of reproduction and development and how these processes are disrupted by environmental contaminants. There are several exciting projects currently available. There is a great opportunity to learn new techniques as well. Both fish and frog models are used in the lab.  There are excellent opportunities to collaborate with groups within the Dept. of Biology, Canada and Internationally. There are compelling recent discoveries in the lab that lay the foundation for new projects. Your ideas and suggestions are welcomed.  They need input and direction from dynamic candidates.

(1) Transgenerational effects of neuroendocrine disruptors

Our work has shown that the brain is a major target for the actions of contaminants and that these disrupt normal development and reproduction. Such research has helped to shape the emerging field of “neuroendocrine disruption”.  We are now examining the impacts of neuroactive substances on physiology and behaviour across generations in the zebrafish model.  Studies on the potential epigenetic modes of transgenerational effects are required.  The ideal candidate will have a strong interest in cellular and molecular biology.

(2) Comparative genomics of vertebrate endocrine systems

A co-supervised position in bioinformatics is available in the Trudeau and Corradi labs to study the comparative genomics of vertebrate endocrine systems. Fish and frog endocrine systems alter gene expression in response developmental and sex hormones, or environmental pollutants and other stressors.  This can result in changes in protein levels, development, physiology and morphology.   Moreover, while many responses may be conserved in evolution, others are not.  Using transcriptomic and proteomic datasets you will develop methods of analysis for individual and cross-species comparisons in both model and non-model fish and frog species. Trudeau’s lab  has extensive experience in comparative endocrinology and endocrine disruption research while Corradi’s lab specializes in evolutionary genomics and bioinformatics.  The ideal candidate will have a keen interest in vertebrate physiology and systems biology.

(3) Novel neuropeptides and the control of reproduction

Pioneering studies from the lab have now established that the peptide secretoneurin (SN) is important for both neuroendocrine and paracrine regulation of reproduction because it stimulates pituitary luteinizing hormone release in goldfish and from a mammalian cell line. We are close to calling it a new hormone but the receptor must first be identified. This is your challenge.  Novel transgenic zebrafish lines and extensive collaborations with China make this a cutting-edge project for someone up to the challenge.

(4) Radial glial cells as steroidogenic neuroendocrine cells

We very recently established the first fish radial glial cell culture method and have shown that the neurotransmitter dopamine regulates estrogen synthesis and cell-cycle related processes.  Radial glial cells are stem-like non-neuronal progenitor cells that are essential for adult neurogenesis in all vertebrates. Surprisingly little is known about their neuroendocrine roles and regulation by neuropeptides and neurotransmitters, so you could investigate this in detail using both in vitro and in vivo model systems.

(5) Endocrine disruption and ecotoxicology in amphibians

We are interested in a range of environmental contaminants that affect the development of tadpoles- from sexual development to metamorphosis to effects on adult reproductive behaviour.  These have included research on estrogenic pollutants, pesticides and naphthenic acids from oil sands process-affected water.  We currently seek a candidate to undertake research on the evaluation of estrogenic and thyroid-disrupting activities of priority substances of the Canadian Chemical Management Plan (3).  These include a benzotriazole, thiocarbamate, hindered phenols and a brominated organophosphate flame retardant.  The student will be co-supervised by Dr. Vance Trudeau (uOttawa) and Dr. Stacey Robinson (National Wildlife Research Centre). This unique project integrates research on native species such as wood frog and leopard frog, and the lab model species Silurana (Xenopus) tropicalis.

These positions are open until they are filled. Apply now for full consideration. Perhaps one of the projects could be the basis for a scholarship.  Applications for these position must consist of the following: (1) a letter expressing your interest; (2) an unofficial transcript; (3) names of at least two references; and (4) an example of your scientific writing. These should be sent by email to:  Prof. Vance L. Trudeau (trudeauv@uottawa.ca)

The University of Ottawa has great scholarship program. If you have the equivalent of A minus (A-) your tuition may be covered for the duration of your tenure here. Overseas students at the PhD level no longer pay differential fees, so tuition is equivalent to what Canadians pay. Check this out by clicking here.