A vaccination to stop the toxoplasma parasite from infecting humans is one step closer thanks to Queensland Tropical Health Alliance (QTHA) and a 12 month Swiss Government Scholarship.

QTHA researcher Dr Rob Walker has won a 12 month Swiss Government Scholarship to pursue postdoctoral research at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, in the laboratory of collaborator, Professor Adrian Hehl, continuing his work with Professor Nick Smith on Sexual Stage Development of Toxoplasma gondii: The Path to a Transmission-Blocking Vaccine.

Dr Rob Walker is an Early Career Researcher at James Cook University in Cairns and together with Professor Nick Smith, QTHA researcher and head of the Centre for Biosecurity and Tropical Infectious Diseases at James Cook University has been researching and working with the Toxoplasma parasite for more than 10 years. This Swiss Government Scholarship will allow Dr Walker to study how the parasite transforms into male and female sexual stages and identify transmission-blocking vaccine candidates.

"This scholarship is a fantastic opportunity, not only for me as an early career researcher to collaborate directly with a world-class body like the University of Zurich, but also for the success of this highly ambitious project." Dr Walker said.

"The international team from the three scientific organisations have worked together for many years and this new grant provides another investment to develop new ideas of major importance to Australia and our neighbours" said Prof Nick Smith.

Toxoplasma is a parasite that affects humans and animals in large numbers worldwide, but is particularly problematic in the tropics.

"Our research is very important because it addresses fundamental questions about a very neglected area of research in Toxoplasma biology. The novel findings of this project will translate into novel strategies for protecting humans and livestock from this resilient parasite." said Dr Walker.

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