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GW4 BioMed MRC DTP PhD studentship: Snapshot into the fungal nucleus – opening novel avenues to tackle fungal disease

Project Description

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the ‘GW4 BioMed MRC Doctoral Training Partnership’ which is offering up to 18 studentships for entry in September 2020.

The DTP brings together the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter to develop the next generation of biomedical researchers. Students will have access to the combined research strengths, training expertise and resources of the four research-intensive universities.


Lead supervisor: Dr Hans-Wilhelm Nützmann, Department of Biology & Biochemistry, University of Bath
Co-supervisors: Dr Neil Brown (Bath), Dr Ryan Ames (Exeter), Prof Sam Sheppard (Bath) and Prof Gustavo Goldman (University of São Paolo)


Fungal disease affects more than a billion people worldwide, causing ~1.5 million deaths every year. The discovery of novel targets for treatment of fungal infections is of paramount importance.

Fungal pathogens of the genus Aspergillus cause life-threatening infections of immunocompromised patients. Common in nature, Aspergillus spores are inhaled into the lungs where they germinate on epithelial cells, form hyphae and cause disease. But how do pathogenic fungi control these changes to their lifestyle essential for their survival in the human host?

Here, we propose a studentship that investigates the hypothesis that changes to the three-dimensional (3D) chromosome architecture orchestrate how fungal pathogens respond to the host environment and promote adaptations associated with disease. Chromosomes form dynamic 3D structures within the nucleus which are critical for regulating gene expression.

To investigate fungal 3D chromosome architecture during conditions important for infection and treatment you will cultivate Aspergillus species in key developmental stages, expose fungi to antifungal pharmaceuticals and perform co-cultivation experiments with immune cells. You will then use cutting-edge Hi-C and RNA-seq molecular techniques together with bioinformatic network analyses and high-resolution microscopy to link chromosome 3D architecture, gene expression and fungal biology. To begin to uncover regulators of fungal chromosome architecture, mutants defective in key sensing cell signalling pathways will be assessed.

Understanding how pathogens reconfigure their genomes to respond to the host will offer opportunities for the development of new pharmaceuticals against fungal infection.

This student will obtain multidisciplinary training in molecular and fungal biology, bioinformatics and genomics, vital skills for establishing a successful career in medical biology and biotechnology. The studentship will be embedded in a collaboration between the Universities of Bath, Exeter and São Paulo (Brazil) and the student will be based at the newly opened Milner Centre for Evolution – a flagship centre for research excellence with a core agenda of public engagement and an active student community.


Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an area appropriate to the skills requirements of the project.

IMPORTANT: In order to apply for this project, you should apply using the DTP’s online application form:

You do NOT need to apply to the University of Bath at this stage – only those applicants who are successful in obtaining an offer of funding form the DTP will be required to submit an application to study at Bath.

More information on the application process may be found here:


Funding Notes

A full studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees, a Research and Training Support Grant of £2-5k per annum and a stipend (£15,009 per annum for 2019/20, updated each year) for 3.5 years.

UK and EU applicants who have been residing in the UK since September 2017 will be eligible for a full award; a limited number of studentships may be available to EU applicants not meeting the residency requirement. Applicants who are classed as Overseas for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.

More information on eligibility may be found here: View Website

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.50

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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