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  Artificial cyclic peptide library for novel antimicrobial resistance therapeutics and targeted delivery

   Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

   Wednesday, July 31, 2024  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Supervisory Team: Dr Afaf El-Sagheer and Dr Sandra Wilks

PhD Supervisor: Afaf El-Sagheer

Project description:

A fully-funded 4 year PhD studentship is available for drug discovery research on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) at the University of Southampton. The project is highly multidisciplinary and will pioneer discoveries of novel therapeutics.

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is one of the biggest global health threats of our time. Understanding how to design drugs able to circumvent the bacterial envelope barrier will boost the pool of antibacterial drugs dramatically. A library of natural/unnatural peptide library will be applied and the ideal artificial molecule would be predicted using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and be applied for targeted delivery of therapeutic oligonucleotides/siRNA, and discovery of potent antibiotic.

If successful, you will join a dynamic and enthusiastic group at the School of Chemistry and Biology with outstanding facilities and vibrant environment provided by the department.

Funding for this project is offered by the Centre for Doctoral Training in Complex Integrated Systems for Defence & Security (CISDnS), which will recruit motivated and inquisitive candidates across the themes of Digital, Physical and Biological systems to provide a diverse and interconnected cohort training environment. As well as carrying out research training in a world-leading research group, membership of CISDnS will provide the opportunity for you to be trained to handle the interdisciplinary challenges faced in the real-world via a Systems Thinking approach. You will learn about the wider challenges of research and innovation within the Defence & Security sector from both your peers and the numerous industry partners supporting the Centre.

This PhD studentship is open only to UK applicants.

This project is suitable for applicants with experimental skills and knowledge in chemistry or Biochemistry/Microbiology. However, the multidisciplinary nature of this project will give the opportunity for the student to acquire knowledge and skills in other relevant disciplines. Those include solid phase oligonucleotides synthesis, biophysical/biochemical assays (e.g. PCR, transcription, florescence, cell biology and machine learning).

We welcome applicants onto the CDT from underrepresented groups.

Please contact Dr Afaf El-Sagheer at  if you need any more information on the project.

To discuss aspect related to the CISDnS CDT please contact the directorate, Email 

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: 31st July 2024.

Applications will be considered in the order that they are received, the position will be considered filled when a suitable candidate has been identified.


Full-time studentships will cover UK course fees and an enhanced tax-free stipend of approx. £23,500 per year for 4 years along with a substantial budget for research, travel, and centre activities. A number of studentships are available and will be awarded on a rolling basis, so you are encouraged to apply early for the best opportunity to be considered.

How To Apply

Apply online, by clicking the 'Apply' button, above.

Select programme type (Research), 2024/25, Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences, next page select “Integrated PhD in Complex Integrated Systems for Defence and Security (2024-25)”

In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Afaf El-Sagheer in the field for proposed supervisor/project

Applications should include:

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts/Certificates to date

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6)

Register your interest for this project

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