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Burgess project: A double-edge sword: antibiotic resistance and immune response

Department of Biology

About the Project

Resistance to antibiotics is a rising worldwide issue that affects our ability to deal with microbial infections, especially against microbes that avoid the immune response. For infections by resistant isolates, we need to be exploring approaches that harness the immune systems strengths. The innate immune system is your first line of defence against various pathogens. Our lab studies an innate immune pathway called the inflammasome which is responsible for the detection and rapid response to bacterial pathogens invading our body. However, pathogens can also avoid this line of defence and deflect detection by our body. Boosting the innate immune response against those pathogens is a new and innovative approach that has the potential to reduce the burden of antibiotic resistance. Furthermore, there is evidences that antibiotic resistance can influence protection against innate immunity and promote bacterial replication within hosts1. In this project the student will address the hypothesis that there is an effect of antibiotic-resistance on bacterial detection and clearance by the inflammasome, with the aim to identifying approaches by which detection can be stimulated to enhance the clearance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
To address the hypothesis, you will use a range of primary cells and engineered immune cells and infect them with bacterial pathogens (E.coli) resistant to various antibiotics and assess the innate immune response following infection. Our lab is developing systems to study the innate immune response in humans to translate our discoveries into therapeutics more efficiently. You will receive training in immunology, cell biology and microbiology and will use cutting-edge techniques (e.g., microscopy, proteomic) to address this very important question.
This project is suitable for an applicant with a keen interest in identifying novel approaches to combat bacterial disease, and with good knowledge of human immunology or/and microbiology.
1-Durao P et al, Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2016 Jun 20;60(7):4324-32

The Department of Biology at the University of York is committed to recruiting extraordinary 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 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.

Funding Notes

This project will be fully-funded by the James Burgess Scholarship for three years. The funding includes:

Tax-free annual stipend at UKRI rate (£15,285 for 2020/21)
UK tuition fees (£4,473 for 2021/22)
Research support and training charges (RSTC)

Only UK students are eligible for this funding scheme.

A number of projects are competing for this funding scheme, each will nominate their strongest candidate to a Selection Panel. Nominated candidates will be invited for interview but only one student will be offered the studentship.


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.

START DATE: 1st October 2021

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