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Barrier functions of the sugary cell coat – Understanding how toxic protein species traverse the glycocalyx

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

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  Dr R Richter, Prof Bruce Turnbull, Prof S E Radford, Dr J. Kwok  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Are you keen to progress research in glycoscience at the interface between chemistry, neuroscience and physics?

Glycocalyces are carbohydrate-rich coats surrounding virtually every cell in our body, including neurons. They play important roles as barriers against pathogens, yet many toxic species (e.g., bacterial toxins, amyloids and viruses) exploit glycocalyces to recognise and enter their host cells. The biochemical and biophysical mechanisms defining selective binding and transport of pathogens within the glycocalyx are not well understood.

In this project, you will develop new methods to probe and understand binding and transport of toxic protein species within glycocalyces in molecular detail. You will develop glycocalyx models with tuneable glycan presentation and physical properties. You will also use state-of-the-art biophysical and cell biology techniques to evaluate the interaction of toxic proteins with glycocalyx-bearing model surfaces and neurons.

The results will provide new tools to progress our fundamental understanding of glycocalyx functions and, in the longer term, may help tackle neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and infectious diseases.

This work is supported by a multi-disciplinary team of supervisors with expertise in all research areas relevant to this project. Excited by this project? Please contact the supervisors for more information before submitting your application.


You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper-second class honours degree or a MSc degree in a relevant subject.

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Biological Sciences minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 6.0 overall, with no element less than 5.5
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 87 with the listening and reading element no less than 20, writing element no less than 21 and the speaking element no less than 22.

How to apply:

To apply for this project applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable).

To help us identify that you are applying for this studentship please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • When asked for source of funding please make it clear that you are applying for a "White Rose BBSRC DTP Studentship"
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert. You can be considered for up to 3 projects in total.

If you have any further queries regarding this opportunity, please contact [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This opportunity is funded by the White Rose BBSRC DTP and will attract an annual tax-free stipend of £17,668 (based on the 2022/23 rate). The award will also cover academic fees. This opportunity is available to UK and International fee rated applicants. Please note that any expenses related to the relocation of international students to the UK (visa, insurance, NHS fees, flights, etc) would be their responsibility and are not covered by this award.

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