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Further Evidence for Bats as the Evolutionary Source of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

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The evolutionary origins of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus (MERS-CoV) are unknown. Current evidence suggests that insectivorous bats are likely to be the original source, as several 2c CoVs have been described from various species in the family Vespertilionidae. Here, we describe a MERS-like CoV identified from a Pipistrellus cf. hesperidus bat sampled in Uganda (strain PREDICT/PDF-2180), further supporting the hypothesis that bats are the evolutionary source of MERS-CoV. Phylogenetic analysis showed that PREDICT/PDF-2180 is closely related to MERS-CoV across much of its genome, consistent with a common ancestry; however, the spike protein was highly divergent (46% amino acid identity), suggesting that the two viruses may have different receptor binding properties. Indeed, several amino acid substitutions were identified in key binding residues that were predicted to block PREDICT/PDF-2180 from attaching to the MERS-CoV DPP4 receptor. To experimentally test this hypothesis, an infectious MERS-CoV clone expressing the PREDICT/PDF-2180 spike protein was generated. Recombinant viruses derived from the clone were replication competent but unable to spread and establish new infections in Vero cells or primary human airway epithelial cells. Our findings suggest that PREDICT/PDF-2180 is unlikely to pose a zoonotic threat. Recombination in the S1 subunit of the spike gene was identified as the primary mechanism driving variation in the spike phenotype and was likely one of the critical steps in the evolution and emergence of MERS-CoV in humans.

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Source: Prof. Denis K. Byarugaba, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity, Makerere University

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Free Online Course: Fundamentals of Pharmacometrics

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Free Online Course: Fundamentals of Pharmacometrics, Sept-Nov 2021, IDI, Makerere University.

The Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), Makerere University invites graduate students, professionals and researchers in Health Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Applied Mathematics or Computer Science to register for the 12 week introductory course: Fundamentals of Pharmacometrics, scheduled to run from September to November 2021.

Participants will learn the fundamental principles of pharmacology, biostatistics and mathematical modelling.

Registration

Submit a motivation letter emphasizing any preexisting numerical skills and how the course will benefit you to cwaitt[at]idi.co.ug copying jkaboggoza[at]idi.co.ug.

Please state the email subject as pmxu21

Deadline for applications: 31st July 2021

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PhD scholarships in Social Sciences for 2021/2022

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The Academic Registrar, Makerere University invites applications from suitable candidates from Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania for a fully funded PhD scholarship in Social Sciences for the 2021/2022 Academic Year.
The Scholarship is part of a 6- year project on ‘Building Resilient Communities through Inclusive Education in Eastern Africa’, funded by the Norwegian Development Agency through the Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED) and implemented by the Department of Social Work, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) in partnership with University of Agder in Norway, University of Rwanda and Institute of Social Work in Tanzania. The objective of the scholarship is to enable academically qualified individuals from vulnerable and marginalised groups and communities that would not afford postgraduate education without support, to attain such an education.
It is expected that upon graduation the students can proactively contribute towards socio-economic transformation of their communities.

Please follow this link for more details about the call.

The closing date for receiving applications is Tuesday August 31st, 2021.

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Masters scholarships in Social Work for the 2021/2022 Academic Year

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The Academic Registrar, Makerere University invites applications from suitable candidates from Uganda and Rwanda for a fully-funded Masters scholarship in Social Work for the 2021/2022 Academic Year.

The Scholarship is part of a 6- year project on ‘Building Resilient Communities through Inclusive Education in Eastern Africa’, implemented by the Department of Social Work, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) in partnership with University of Agder in Norway, University of Rwanda and Institute of Social Work in Tanzania. The objective of the scholarship is to enable academically qualified individuals from vulnerable and marginalised groups and communities that would not afford postgraduate education without support, to attain such an education. It is expected that upon graduation scholars hip beneficiaries can proactively contribute towards socio-economic transformation of their communities.

Details can be found by following this link

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