BBSRC NLD Doctoral Training Partnership: Characterisation of physiological properties and pathogenic potential of Mycobacterium bovis L-forms

   Faculty of Medical Sciences

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  Dr Katarzyna Mickiewicz, Dr Alistair Brown, Dr Jurek Kozyra  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This exciting project addresses aspects of antimicrobial resistance (AMR); one of the biggest issues facing humanity. Mycobacterium bovis (closely related to Mycobacterium tuberculosis) is a cause of tuberculosis disease affecting cattle, other farm and wild animals, as well as humans. Strains resistant to antibiotics arise rapidly, and the potential to spread resistance factors to other bacterial species affecting animals and human is ever increasing. To address problem of rising AMR, we urgently need to better understand mechanisms bacteria adapt to evade antibiotics.

L-form switching is an understudied mechanism of AMR, which involves temporary loss of bacterial cell wall, that allows bacteria to survive treatment with antibiotics targeting this structure, (for example penicillin) and remerge following the antibiotic treatment.

You will use cutting-edge methodologies, including advanced fluorescence microscopy and transcriptomics to study interactions of Mycobacterium bovis L-forms with the host cells, with the aim to understand the phenomenon of L-form switching better and lessen the burden of the disease. You will join Dr Katarzyna Mickiewicz’s research group, specialising in host-L-form interactions and based at the world-renowned Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology (CBCB) at the Newcastle University Biosciences Institute (NUBI). You will benefit from the supervision of the second supervisor Dr Alistair Brown (also based at NUBI), an expert on Mycobacterium tuberculosis and other mycobacteria. You will join a vibrant community of PhD students, post-docs and technicians and take part in regular scientific seminars and social events. This project will be carried out in collaboration with an industrial partner: Nanovery - a growing biotech company based at the Newcastle Biosphere. You will develop novel diagnostic tools for bacterial infections, using patented Nanovery nanorobot technology and have a unique opportunity to experience working in a biotech industry environment. This multidisciplinary project will allow you to gain experience in microbiological and genetic techniques, transcriptomics, microscopy and synthetic biology techniques, highly transferrable to other settings in academia, industry and clinical laboratories.


Applications should be made by emailing [Email Address Removed] with:

  • a CV (including contact details of at least two academic (or other relevant) referees);
  • a covering letter – clearly stating your first-choice project, and optionally 2nd ranked project, as well as including whatever additional information you feel is pertinent to your application; you may wish to indicate, for example, why you are particularly interested in the selected project(s) and at the selected University;
  • copies of your relevant undergraduate degree transcripts and certificates;
  • a copy of your IELTS or TOEFL English language certificate (where required);
  • a copy of your passport (photo page).

A GUIDE TO THE FORMAT REQUIRED FOR THE APPLICATION DOCUMENTS IS AVAILABLE AT Applications not meeting these criteria may be rejected.

In addition to the above items, please email a completed copy of the Additional Details Form (as a Word document) to [Email Address Removed]. A blank copy of this form can be found at:

Informal enquiries may be made to [Email Address Removed] 

The deadline for all applications is 12noon on Monday 15th January 2024.


Part-Time Study Options

All NLD DTP PhDs are available as part time or full time, with part time being a minimum of 50% of full time. Please discuss potential part time arrangements with the primary supervisor before applying to the programme.

Project CASE Status

This project is a CASE project. Your project will be co-supervised by the non-academic partner organisation, and you will spend 3-18 months on a placement with your CASE partner in their workplace. You will experience training, facilities and expertise not available in an academic setting, and will build business and research collaborations. Your CASE partner will also contribute an additional £1,000 per year to your Research and Training Support Grant.

Agriculture (1) Biological Sciences (4) Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

BBSRC NLD DTP programme – starting October 2024.
UKRI provide the following funding for 4 years:
• Stipend (2023/24 UKRI rate £18,622)
• Tuition Fees at UK fee rate (2023/24 rate £4,712)
• Research support and training grant (RTSG)
Note - UKRI funding only covers UK (Home) fees. The DTP partners have various schemes which allow international students to join the DTP but only be required to pay home fees. Home fees are already covered in the UKRI funding, meaning that successful international candidates do not need to find any additional funding for fees.


1. Possible role of L-form switching in recurrent urinary tract infection. Nature Communications 2019, 10, 4379.
2. Lysozyme Counteracts β-Lactam Antibiotics by Promoting the Emergence of L-Form Bacteria. Cell 2018, 172(5), 1038-1043.e10.
3. Identification of Substituted Amino Acid Hydrazides as Novel Anti-Tubercular Agents, using a Scaffold Hopping Approach, Molecules (2020) 25(10): 2387-2411
4. Designing Uniquely Addressable Bio-orthogonal Synthetic Scaffolds for DNA and RNA Origami ACS Synth. Biol. 2017, 6, 7, 1140–1149 Publication Date: April 17, 2017
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