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Enhancing pathogen detection with sweet peptide tools (MORRIS_U21DART)

   School of Pharmacy

Norwich United Kingdom Biochemistry Bioinformatics

About the Project

Host-pathogen interactions often rely on the binding between a host glycan (sugar) to a sugar-binding protein

(lectin). Bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and E. coli rely on these protein-carbohydrate interactions to

attach to, colonise and invade host epithelial surfaces to cause infection. This project will investigate how glycan lectin binding sites can be targeted for the development of better infection diagnostics. This iCASE studentship is a collaboration between Dr Chris Morris (UEA) and Iceni Diagnostics.

This PhD project will involve the development of recombinant glycopeptide libraries using phage display. These libraries will be used to identify and engineer high affinity ligands that bind bacterial pathogen lectins. You will learn a range of techniques ranging from molecular biology, phage display screening, protein expression/purification, biophysical techniques and diagnostic test development. The project will be based in Dr Chris Morris’ lab (UEA School of Pharmacy) but will involve spending at least three months in the labs of Iceni Diagnostics.

We are looking for a highly motivated, dedicated and ambitious student to join our highly collaborative and interdisciplinary research team. The student will have, or expect to obtain a first class, 2(i) or equivalent Honours degree in Biological Sciences, Pharmacy, Chemistry or a related subject.

Informal enquiries are welcomed; for further information please contact Dr Chris Morris


This project has been selected for funding by the MRC Doctoral Antimicrobial Research Training (DART) Programme. The MRC DART Management Board approves entry to the programme and studentship offers.

Due to the unavailability of the UEA application form, which was under maintenance, the deadline for this project has been extended to 25 October.

Interviews are expected to take place on either Thursday 11th November or Tuesday 16th November 2021 (final date to be confirmed). 

Students will benefit from collaborative training with the Norwich Research Park (NRP) Biosciences Doctoral Training Programme (DTP), as well as a breadth of training possibilities across NRP partners. Through collaboration with a non-academic partner, students will spend 3-18 months on a placement with the iCASE partner. Through this placement, students gain access to training, facilities and expertise not available in an academic setting alone, significantly enhancing future employability.

Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. Before admission candidates must also meet the UEA minimum English language requirements.

Visit our website for further information on eligibility and how to apply: https://www.uea.ac.uk/web/research/research-with-us/postgraduate-research/latest-phds-and-research-studentships/mrc-dart-icase  

Our partners value diverse and inclusive work environments that are positive and supportive. Students are selected for admission on merit without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is funded for 3.5 years. Successful students starting in 2021/22 will be eligible for a full studentship award: a stipend to support living costs (2021/22 UKRI rate: £15,609pa plus iCASE stipend enhancement of £2,500pa), research costs and full University of East Anglia tuition fees.
Please note that all international awards have been made for the MRC DART programme for 2021 and we will not be accepting applications from international candidates, as defined by UKRI’s International Eligibility criteria for UKRI funded studentships (Annex B).

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