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Development of a point of care test for maternal carriage of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) for prevention of neonatal infection

Department of Chemistry

Prof Toby Jenkins Sunday, April 25, 2021 Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Bath United Kingdom Bacteriology Biomedical Engineering Microbiology Physical Chemistry

About the Project

The University of Bath is inviting applications for a Marie Curie-Sklodowska ITN Early Career Researcher position as part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 funded Stimulus project.

The position will be of 3 years’ duration and will require that the successful candidate registers for a PhD programme at the University of Bath. Ideally, the candidate will be available to start in July 2021.

Please check that you are eligible for this position before applying (see eligibility requirements below).

The research:

Bacterial infection of new-born babies, which leads to sepsis and meningitis, is the leading cause of the 2.9 million global neonatal deaths worldwide along with an even greater number of babies permanently disabled. Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the principal pathogen which leads to neonatal infection. GBS can be effectively treated with antibiotics if detected early. In the UK, 0.57 babies per 1000 currently get early-onset GBS disease, but around 25% of women are diagnosed with GBS colonisation pre-partum. In the UK women are currently not routinely screened for GBS pre-partum due to concerns that to do so could lead to over-treatment and over-use of antibiotics, and poor predictive accuracy. GBS infection of new-borns can, however, be devastating, though incidence is fortunately rare.


The ultimate aim of this project is to develop a fast, accurate, low-cost sensor for maternal (and potentially neonatal) GBS critical colonisation via a simple swab test: the SPaCE-GBS swab. This diagnostic test could be used a triage tool for pregnant women at 38 weeks gestation to identify high risk mothers to be. Moreover, it could have utility in the rapid test of women in early-stage childbirth and potentially for testing neonates immediate post-partum. Please see:

The sensor will be tested on swabs taken from consenting pregnant women at 36-38 weeks gestation (as part of the national GBS 3 trial) and the sensitivity and specificity for GBS measured against two standard tests: Enriched Culture Medium (ECM) and 16S rRNA PCR.

Qualifications required:

Applicants must hold a Bachelor’s degree plus a Masters’ degree in Microbiology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Biosciences, Medicine, Chemistry or a related discipline (but should have some knowledge of microbiology) with a classification of First Class or Upper Second Class (or equivalent), and should have an interest in clinical infectious disease and the potential to translate laboratory technology towards patient use.

There are strict eligibility requirements for this position:

Applicants may be from anywhere in the world; however, applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the United Kingdom for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the commencement of the position.

International applicants will be required to meet the university’s English language entry requirements.

In addition, applicants must:

  • be in the first four years of their research careers at the time of appointment and have not been awarded a doctoral degree;
  • comply with the EU definition of Early Stage Researchers (specifically, not having previously been awarded a doctoral degree).

Enquiries and applications:

Information applications should be addressed to Prof Toby Jenkins ().

Applicants should submit TWO applications by the advertised application deadline:

1) A formal PhD application should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Chemistry (full-time). You should ensure that you quote the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section of the application form. More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here.


2) A job application must be made IN ADDITION to the PhD application. See here the associated job advertisement.

Interview date: Wednesday 19 May 2021.

Funding Notes

Starting salary: £34,450 per annum (inclusive of pension) / £41,230 per annum (exclusive of pension)
Mobility allowance: £439 per month
Fixed term for a period of 3 years
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