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Bacterial sepsis: how the pathogen survives and thrives

Hull York Medical School

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Dr Marjan Van Der Woude No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
York United Kingdom Biochemistry Cell Biology Genetics Immunology Microbiology Molecular Biology

About the Project

Bacterial sepsis: how the pathogen survives and thrives 

Supervisors: Marjan van der Woude (HYMS), Dave Boucher (Biology). 

Sepsis causes up to 11 million deaths globally a year. Most cases of sepsis are caused by bacterial bloodstream infections, and increasing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is leading to therapy failure. Thus, there is an urgent need for better understanding of the infectious agents that lead to sepsis to drive development of new therapies. For bacterial isolates to enter the blood stream, and then survive and thrive, they must be able to meet the challenges of the host environment: utilize different nutrients and avoid clearance by the immune system. In this project you will analyze bacterial traits that facilitate this in-host “success” with a focus on invasive Salmonella spp and pathogenic Escherichia coli. The latter are now associated with 40% of bacterial sepsis cases in the UK, and up to 40% of isolates are antibiotic resistant. The student will benefit from the complementary areas of expertise of the supervisors and collaborators: molecular microbiology and virulence strategies [including immune evasion], the immune system (inflammasome), clinical microbiology, and bacterial metabolic repertoires. You will use approaches and techniques as relevant including mining genome information, molecular biology, cell biology, bacterial genetics, and microscopy. A successful applicant is likely to have a degree that includes microbiology/bacterial infection or biochemistry modules or project, and have previous lab-based research experience. Collaborators: Gavin Thomas (Molecular Microbiology/Biochemistry, Biology), Gavin Barlow (Infectious Disease, Clinical, HYMS).  

For informal inquiries, please contact Dr. Marjan van der Woude Email: [Email Address Removed]

This project is part of the PhD programme at the Experimental Medicine and Biomedicine group in Hull York Medical School at the University of York ( Two full-time, fully-funded 4-year PhDs are available. You will be based at the University of York. During your PhD, you will do a mini-rotation (4-8 weeks) in a different laboratory or non-laboratory environment to expand your research and transferable skills.   

The Hull York Medical School is a unique partnership bringing together the expertise of both the Universities of Hull and York and offering a thriving environment in which to conduct world-leading research. Strong partnerships with NHS Trusts and community health organisations offer a wide clinical base that fosters translation of biomedical research to improve health. Our research is a key component of the York Biomedical Research Institute ( 

You will have access to University of York Biosciences Technology Facility, allowing the use of cutting-edge equipment to support the research as needed for the project (e.g in imaging, transcriptomics, bioinformatics etc.) You will be supported by a thesis advisory panel, and will follow a training programme on transferable and research skills.

Start  Date 1st October 2021 

In order to qualify for this scholarship you will require an undergraduate degree with at least a 2.1, or equivalent, in a relevant subject. English Language IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component.

All applications MUST BE submitted to Hull York Medical School via the online application method choosing option PhD in Medical Sciences 2021 October, full time or part time: 

The deadline for applications is the 21st February 2021. 

In order for the Panel to get a sense of your academic background, commitment and interest, you are required to complete the application form in full. In place of a research proposal please provide an outline of your academic interests and how these fit to the advertised PhD.

Funding Notes

Full-time UK PhD Scholarships will include fees at the ‘home' student rate and maintenance (£15,285 in 2020/21) plus £6,000 for lab resources for four years, depending on satisfactory progress.
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