Diplom/Master thesis position on Polar bear health

Diplom/Master thesis position on Polar bear health at the IZW in Berlin, Germany


The Department of Wildlife Diseases offers a position as Diplom/Master thesis

Job description

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) can become infected with various pathogens in captivity. We have recently documented several cases of equine herpes virus infections in this species. However, in nature, such an infection would be extremely unlikely as polar bears and equids (captive or wild) do not overlap in range. Thus, the question is what are polar bears normally exposed to in the wild? How is it similar or different in captivity? To address these issues we are looking for a Diplom-Master’s student to serologically test our collection of several hundred wild and captive polar bear sera for selected pathogens representing likely sources of exposure in the wild e.g. via food which is primarily of marine mammal origin, common pathogens that are worldwide distributed and pathogens that are likely only to be found in captivity. The results of the thesis should provide the framework for understanding the exposure of polar bears in the wild to pathogens and how this is similar or different to the situation in captivity.
Specific tasks

Examination of close to 900 polar bear serum samples by serum neutralization tests and enzyme linked immunosorbent assays for select pathogens
Statistical analysis of the results


Biology or Veterinary Medicine studies (for Bachelors students, successful completion of the Bachelor degree)
Interest in wildlife diseases
Experience with serology will be given preference
Good English skills (spoken and written)
A great deal of motivation, creativity and willingness to put in long hours when necessary
Willingness to work in a team
Prepared to work in an interdisciplinary and international environment

The starting date is at the earliest on 15.8.2014. For further information please contact Prof. Alex Greenwood (030/5168-255 or or Dr. Gabor Czirjak (030/5168-214 or


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