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How do antibiotics kill bacteria?

  • Full or part time
    Prof S J Foster
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Despite being a lynchpin of modern healthcare we still do not understand how cell wall active antibiotics such as penicillin and vancomycin kill growing bacteria, although several theories have been proposed. We have developed a simple unifying hypothesis as to why cell wall antibiotics are bactericidal, where they inhibit cell wall synthesis but not hydrolysis. Active hydrolases lead to continued cell wall growth until integrity can no longer be maintained. The studentship will take an interdisciplinary approach to map the effects of antibiotics on the major human pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus. Super resolution and atomic force microscopy will determine the consequences of antibiotic action. This will be couple with a molecular genetic analysis of the role of cell wall hydrolases in antibiotic induced death. We predict that tolerance to the activity of cell wall antibiotics is linked to the level of hydrolases. Understanding the molecular events that lead to cell death will define new pathways for the development of control regimes.

Science Graduate School:

As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School – a community of postgraduate researchers working across biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and psychology. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

Funding Notes

Entry requirements:

First class or upper second 2(i) in a relevant subject. To formally apply for a PhD position, you must complete the University's application form using the following link: View Website

*All applicants should ensure that both references are uploaded onto their application as a decision will be unable to be made without this information*.

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.90

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

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