An exciting opportunity has arisen to join two vibrant interdisciplinary research groups within the University of Sheffield, crossing the Faculties of Medicine, Dentistry and Health as well as the Faculty of Engineering, and in partnership with global healthcare company, GSK. Professor Graham Stafford has a multidisciplinary group focussing on a range of applied and fundamental microbiology research http://www.stafford.group.shef.ac.uk/ ; while Dr Jags Pandhal is an expert in proteomics and bioengineering https://www.pandhalresearchgroup.co.uk/ meaning you will join an interdisciplinary team and receive a broad training that will also include knowledge of commercialisation of research.
A healthy oral microbiome is essential to maintaining oral and systemic health. Oral diseases cost the NHS £billions while the oral healthcare market is also worth £billions. However, understanding how oral products affect the composition and function of the oral microbiota is weak.
Our overarching aim is to improve understanding of the responses of the human oral microbiome to active antimicrobial compounds in commonly used oral mouthwashes (including Chlorhexidine)- whose use may also promote Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). Our approach will use a novel metaproteomic approach to ‘take the pulse’ of oral microbiome cultures in parallel with microbiome classification (16S) via nanopore sequencing and biochemical virulence assays of in vitro oral microbiome communities. It is essential that scientists start to examine function of bacterial communities rather than reductionist single species projects. The human microbiome, with the oral cavity being a good example, is responsible for maintaining health, with disruptions (dysbiosis) being linked to many conditions- e.g. IBD, Crohns, Periodontitis and caries. While many studies monitor the microbiome, they usually simply catalogue species (16S studies) or potential function (metagenome) rather than actually looking at protein expression in response to perturbations. Our project will examine dynamic responses to oral active compounds and uncover mechanisms that will enable reconstruction of microbial processes and metabolic pathways that are central to the functioning of the oral ecosystem.
Our project will focus initially on Chlorehexidine (CHX) plus a novel active under development at GSK (placement work)- that you will also aid to identify during work with GSK at their base in the UK, examining factors important in product development. CHX is a common antimicrobial in daily mouthwashes, with continued usage altering the microbiome and affecting blood-pressure modifying compounds (e.g. nitrite). In addition, CHX use can induce resistance to antibiotics in some bacteria.
The data and techniques developed will allow improvement and design of future actives by GSK-consumer healthcare and improve our understanding of the human microbiome. The team in Sheffield have been working with GSK for over 10 years and have an excellent working relationship, that includes a record of journal publication by PhD students, as well as winning national awards from Microbiology and Oral research communities."
The BBSRC WR DTP and the University of Sheffield are committed to recruiting future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and we have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.
Entry Requirements: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions.
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Start Date: 1st October 2022