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Evolution and engineering of non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (WILKINSON_J22DTP1)

   Graduate Programme

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  Prof B Wilkinson  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The discovery & development of penicillin sparked ‘The Golden Age of Antibiotics’ which spanned the 1940’s to 1960’s when most major classes of antibiotics were discovered. Indeed, most antibiotics in clinical use today are derived from natural products made by bacteria.

Alarmingly, the pipeline of new antibiotics has dried up at a time when Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and emerging new pathogens has made their discovery a matter of extreme urgency. AMR is an increasingly serious threat to global public health.

This project will use principles learned from evolutionary studies, in combination with protein modelling, to rationally engineer the machinery bacteria use to produce new antibiotics for the treatment of drug resistant pathogens.

The successful candidate will have access to cutting-edge research facilities as well as a stimulating research and training environment. They will be part of an interdisciplinary team and the project provides an exceptional training opportunity in microbiology & molecular microbiology, enzymology and protein purification, protein modelling, antibiotic biosynthesis and function, and analytical & natural products chemistry.

The combination of skills and experience provided by this studentship will make the successful candidate highly employable in both academia and industry.

The Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) is open to UK and international candidates for entry October 2021 and offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year PhD 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 placement (PIPS) during their study. The placement 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.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the NRPDTP programme. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on Tuesday 25th January, Wednesday 26th January and Thursday 27th January 2022.

Visit our website for further information on eligibility and how to apply:

Our partners value diverse and inclusive work environments that are positive and supportive. Students are selected for admission 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 project is awarded with a 4-year Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) PhD studentship. The studentship includes payment of tuition fees (directly to the University), a stipend for each year of the studentship (2021/2 stipend rate: £15,609), and a Research Training Support Grant for each year of the studentship of £5,000 p.a.


[1] K. A. J. Bozhueyuek, J. Micklefield & Barrie Wilkinson (2019). Engineering enzymatic assembly lines to produce new antibiotics. Curr. Opin. Microbiol. 51:88-96.
[2] T. J. Booth et al (2021). Bifurcation drives the evolution of assembley-line biosynthesis. BioRxiv preprint.
[3] M. I. Hutchings, A. W. Truman & Barrie Wilkinson (2019). Antibiotics: past, present and future. Curr. Opin. Microbiol. 51:72-80.
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