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Development of a rapid analytical method for the detection of microbial infection indicators

   School of Pharmacy

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  Dr Rian Griffiths, Prof Miguel Camara  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The University of Nottingham has a long-standing reputation for world-class research. The School of Pharmacy is ranked 5th in the world (2019 QS World Rankings) for pharmacy and pharmacology and was recently awarded an Athena Swan Silver award. The School was also ranked joint 1st in the UK rankings on quality of research for Pharmacy Schools in the most recent Research and Excellence Framework (REF) and has a strong collegial ethos. Furthermore, the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Panel judged that the University of Nottingham delivers high quality teaching and learning to students. The National Biofilm Innovation Centre (NBIC) is an Innovation & Knowledge Centre (IKC) funded by BBSRC and led by the Universities of Southampton, Nottingham, Liverpool and Edinburgh. NBIC is ideally placed to support the exchange of newly qualified PhDs, early career researchers, knowledge and expertise between academic and industry sectors.

 Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease, characterised by mucus build-up, causing difficulties breathing. This mucus clogs airways and traps microbes, e.g. bacteria, causing chronic lung infections that are difficult to treat. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is most common in people with CF (pwCF) over 16; 27% live with chronic infection. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is multi-drug resistant and was added to the UK government’s surveillance list in 2017 with rising infections reported to Public Health England. P. aeruginosa is associated with poor outcomes for pwCF, therefore timely diagnosis is desirable. It can be eliminated from the lungs if detected at an early-stage, however early diagnosis is challenging.

 This study will investigate P. aeruginosa signaling molecules, a group of biomolecules that play a key role in disease progression and have previously been identified in biological fluids from pwCF with established infections. Our aim is to better understand their role and determine biomolecules that are indicative of early-stage infection. We will validate detection of signaling molecules from further microbial species that interact with P. aeruginosa. The impact additional microbial species have on the detection of P. aeruginosa signaling molecules, and sensitivity to antibiotic treatment, will also be investigated. Specifically, P. aeruginosa biomolecules secreted away from the site of infection will be studied, as these are present in clinically relevant biological fluids including saliva.

This three-year PhD project will be based in the School of Pharmacy and utilises state-of-the-art instrumentation acquired in recent years. Advanced high mass resolution (Orbitrap) instrumentation will be utilised for the analysis of metabolites from biological samples. Surface mass spectrometry and imaging techniques such as liquid extraction surface analysis (LESA), and atmospheric pressure (AP) matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation (MALDI) will be used alongside microscopy approaches such confocal alongside microbiology culture.

This is a multi-disciplinary project combining microbiology with analytical and chemical sciences. The project will be highly analytical with a focus on understanding microbial infection markers via mass spectrometry. This project seeks to make the most of the world leading capabilities and instrumentation and expertise available at the University of Nottingham.

The successful candidate will:

• Receive the training needed for a professional career as a multidisciplinary microbiologist and analytical scientist

• Receive a full studentship tax free (fees and stipend at UK/EU rates) for 3 years

• Work directly with leading academics

• Receive a travel and consumable allowance

Funding Notes

Due to funding restrictions, the position is only available for UK candidates. Candidates must possess or expect to obtain, a 2:1 degree in Biology, Microbiology, Chemistry, or a related scientific discipline. The project is particularly suitable for candidates with a scientific background who would like to develop their analytical skills. Experience in bacterial cell culture or advanced mass spectrometry would be advantageous.

How good is research at University of Nottingham in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy?

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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