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Effects of water chemistry on the exposure risk for pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, Biosceinces – PhD (Funded)


About This PhD Project

Project Description

The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences, in partnership with AstraZeneca, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter. The studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of £19,009 per year for 4 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. This includes a stipend enhancement from AstraZeneca. The student will be based in Biosciences and The Living Institute in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter

Pharmaceuticals from human and animal use enter the aquatic environment and can effect aquatic life. We test chemicals for the harm they may potentially cause to aquatic life through standardised international guidelines, but rarely do these tests consider wide variations in water chemistry that occur in natural freshwaters. In the human body the micro-environment is relatively stable and predictable, but in the natural aquatic environment this is not the case. We understand little about the factors that drive uptake and clearance in aquatic organisms. Factors including environmental water chemistry (e.g. pH, divalent cation concentrations etc.) play a major, albeit largely unrecognised, role in exposure risk. This PhD studentship will undertake hypothesis driven studies with some of the most widely prescribed ionisable drugs (including antidepressants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics) to identify and understand the key factors driving uptake and clearance in species of critical environmental importance. Fluorescently labelled drugs will be used to study pharmaceutical bioavailability and susceptibility for effects in a range of bacteria and algal species (including those used in OECD test guidelines) essential for delivering key ecosystems services. One of the biggest issues that we are working towards is to better understand how mixtures of pharmaceuticals interact, and to establish how water chemistry of natural waters affect their bioavailability and biological effects in a range of aquatic organisms. This PhD will establish a more accurate understanding of their potential environmental health risks, including for antimicrobial resistance (AMR for antibiotics). In this exciting project the student will develop a wide range of skills including microfluidics systems and imaging.

This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus £19,009 per year for 4 years tax-free stipend. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee.

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 4 years of full-time study to commence in September 2019. The collaboration with the named project partner is subject to contract. Please note full details of the project partner’s contribution and involvement with the project is still to be confirmed and may change during the course of contract negotiations. Full details will be confirmed at offer stage.

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