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EASTBIO Molecular basis of environmental sensing in fungi and protozoan parasites

  • Full or part time
    Dr J Thompson
    Dr J Baranovic
    Dr E Wallace
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, January 05, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Many of the unicellular eukaryotic parasites that cause disease in humans are exquisitely adapted to navigate the complex and dynamic environments that they encounter in their hosts in order to sustain their life cycles and spread infection. For example, the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, switches between human and mosquito hosts where it targets specific tissue niches in order to replicate and reproduce, and the pathogenic fungus, Cryptococcus neoformans invades the brain to causes fungal meningitis and encephalitis. These adaptations require the parasite to be able to sense and respond to the various chemical stimuli present in its’ surroundings by, as yet, mostly unknown mechanisms. How do they achieve this and which proteins and mechanisms allow parasites to fulfil such complex infectious cycles?

This project addresses this question by investigating candidate genes in parasitic protozoa and fungi that are predicted bioinformatically to encode cell-surface channels and receptors, but are currently uncharacterised. These proteins have no homologues in humans, so hold particular promise for drug development for a range of infectious diseases, including malaria, which alone kills hundreds of thousands of people yearly and for which the development of drug-resistance is an increasing concern. The recent explosion in genomic data means we can use protein sequence information to bridge studies in different organisms and ask whether the function and mechanism of action of proteins is conserved across the tree of life. The project will, therefore, have an interdisciplinary approach, using biochemical methods to investigate the structure and activity of candidate channels and receptors in vitro, and malaria and fungal model systems together with genetic and molecular technologies to explore and compare their roles throughout the parasitic lifecycles.

Funding Notes

The “Visit Website” button will take you to our Online Application checklist. Complete each step and download the checklist which will provide a list of funding options and guide you through the application process. Follow the instructions on the EASTBIO website (you will be directed here from our application checklist), ensuring you upload an EASTBIO application form and transcripts to your application, and ticking the box to request references. Your referees should upload their references using the EASTBIO reference form, in time for the 5th January deadline so please give them plenty of time to do this by applying early.

How good is research at University of Edinburgh in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 109.70

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

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