Defining the protective effects of a commensal bacterial strain in skin barrier function and protection from disease

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

  , ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Maintaining a healthy skin barrier is vital for our health. In response to skin wounding, we have a well-orchestrated immune response that heals the breach. Delays in wound healing cause non-healing wounds such as diabetic, venous and pressure ulcers which affect one in 50 people, imposing a substantial burden on global Health Services and leading to significant patient morbidity and mortality. Other common conditions such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis are also associated with alterations in skin barrier function.

Critical for good barrier function are the cells in the outermost layer of the skin, the keratinocytes. How these keratinocytes interact with the external environment and our microbiome as well as the other cells in the skin is critical. Our previous work indicates that changes in the populations of bacteria within skin tissue niches are associated with inflammation and delayed wound healing. Specifically, we have defined bacterial populations within the normal dermal microbiota that, independent of infection, are associated with skin healing or delayed healing and excessive inflammation. 

Notably, we have defined bacterial strains that may be beneficial for barrier functions. This project will explore these bacteria/host interactions in the context of healthy skin and skin conditions including wound healing, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis  to define the mode of action and the bacterial active products that support barrier function.

Key words: microbiome, host/microbiota crosstalk, skin, wound healing, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis

Entry Requirements

Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a related area / subject.  Candidates with experience in microbiology and/or immunology are encouraged to apply. 

How to Apply

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website ( Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select PhD Microbiology.

For international students, we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit 

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a related area / subject. Candidates with experience in microbiology and/or immunology are encouraged to apply.
Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 2 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website View Website


Crompton et al. 2022 Journal of investigative dermatology 142 (4)
Williams et al. 2018 Journal of investigative dermatology 10.1016/j.jid.2018.04.014
Willmott T, et al. 2023 Hypertension. 2023 Sep 13. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.123.21263.

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