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Determining the microbiome of the homes of people with chronic respiratory diseases


School of Pharmacy

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Dr D Gilpin , Dr D Downey No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

In recent years, our understanding of the microbial world in and around us has radically changed. The idea that we live with a complex and diverse community of microbes, has moved us away from a “hygiene hypothesis”, where having less bacteria was, to put it simply, better. Advances in DNA sequencing technology have allowed us to demonstrate the existence of a complex ecology of microbes- pathogenic bacteria live among a background of neutral, or indeed potentially beneficial microbes. However, this understanding of microbial ecology is set against a backdrop of public concern regarding the global challenges presented by antimicrobial resistance.
As the cost of DNA sequencing has decreased, technologies which were previously inaccessible to the general public, due to cost, are now much more open to participation. These so-called “citizen science” projects have ranged from large-scale microbial analyses of the New York Subway, to determination of the microbiome of the domestic kitchen. In these projects, the public were active participants in sample collection, study design and discussion of future research directions. Engagement in these projects allowed both participants and researchers to develop useful discussions around microbes, health and microbial stewardship. These projects were shown to be challenging and empowering for participants, allowing them to take ownership of outcomes and act accordingly. This project aims to aid people living with chronic lung diseases to physically engage in research, and in so doing, gain an understanding of the ecology of their domestic surroundings, and how this can be reconfigured towards a healthier outcome.

Funding Notes

Applicants should have a 1st or 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Relevant subjects include Computer Science, Bioinformatics, Pharmacy, Molecular Biology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biochemistry, Biological/Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, or a closely related discipline. Students who have a 2.2 honours degree and a Master’s degree may also be considered, but the School reserves the right to interview only those applicants who have demonstrated high academic attainment. “The studentship will be funded by the Department for the Economy. Please read information on eligibility criteria: https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/publications/student-finance-postgraduate-studentships-terms-and-conditions. However, there may be flexibility to fund a small number of exceptional International applicants”.


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