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Discovery of Antibiotics from Cyanobacteria (TRUMANJ20DTP)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, November 25, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Bacteria have the capacity to produce natural products with exquisite bioactivities, which makes these compounds excellent candidates as medicines and agrochemicals. In an era of widespread antimicrobial and antifungal resistance, it is essential that new bioactive compounds are discovered, as these can serve as leads for drug discovery. A promising approach is to explore the biosynthetic capacity of understudied bacteria. Cyanobacteria are known to produce numerous clinically important molecules, such as dolastatin, which forms the basis of an approved anti-lymphoma drug. However, only a few natural products have been discovered from some species.
The goal of this project is to harness the potential of overlooked cyanobacteria for the discovery of antibiotics that are active towards clinical-important pathogens. This will be guided by genomics, which can be used to predict whether a cyanobacterium is likely to produce new molecules. This will be supported by advanced mass spectrometry and bioactivity screening to guide compound discovery. This multidisciplinary project will be based in the laboratory of Dr Andrew Truman in the Department of Molecular Microbiology at the John Innes Centre, which has world-class facilities for bacterial genetics and natural product biosynthesis. Cyanobacteria expertise is provided by secondary supervisor Dr David Lea-Smith (University of East Anglia), who is an expert in the physiology, biotechnology and genetics of Cyanobacteria. This project provides an exciting opportunity to discover new bioactive molecules and develop skills across genetics, mass spectrometry, cyanobacterial physiology and natural products chemistry (purification and structural elucidation by NMR). Applications are welcomed from students across the biological and chemical sciences with a desire to work on a multidisciplinary project.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 7th, 8th or 9th January 2020.

The NRP DTP offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three-month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second-class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Funding Notes

For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website: View Website. Full Studentships cover a stipend (2019/0 rate: £15,009pa), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

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