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  Identifying New Antimicrobials against S. aureus in Chronic Wound Biofilms

   Hull York Medical School

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  Dr Holly Wilkinson  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Applications are invited for an exciting 4-year fully funded PhD studentship to commence on 1st July 2023. This PhD project is part of a larger cohort of studentships supported by the National Biofilms Innovation Centre Collaborative Training Partnerships Scheme. 

For this project, you will undertake an interdisciplinary programme of work supervised by Dr Holly Wilkinson (Hull York Medical School), Dr Stefano Caserta (Hull York Medical School) and Dr Paul Fogg (University of York) to elucidate the effects of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) S. aureus on human wound repair, alongside screening the efficacy of novel phage-derived antimicrobial therapies using cutting-edge wound infection models. You will also be integrated with NBIC Doctoral Training Centre in Biofilms Innovation, Technology and Engineering, which will provide additional world class training (

Persistent antimicrobial resistant infections are a major contributor to wound-related morbidity and mortality in the elderly. Prevalence is high, with chronic wounds costing the NHS a staggering £8Bn per annum. As current antimicrobial treatments are inadequate, there remains a clinical unmet need to develop new effective antimicrobial therapies. 

In this PhD studentship, you will build upon our recent findings to explore how AMR S. aureus alters human skin healing. You will have access to our biobank of chronic wound isolated S. aureus strains and will assess how these bacteria alter wound healing and immune response using validated histological and immunological methods within the Wilkinson and Caserta groups (at Hull). In addition, you will undertake a placement in Dr Fogg’s laboratory at the University of York where you will isolate and characterise novel bacteriophage-derived products. These products will then be tested for their antimicrobial efficacy using our wound infection models. You will use cutting-edge in vitro, and ex vivo skin/wound models and will have access to patient chronic wound samples provided by our clinical collaborators. The project will provide extensive multidisciplinary training in wound biology (Wilkinson), immunology (Caserta) and molecular biology (Fogg). Key techniques used within the PhD will include whole genome sequencing (bacteria and phage characterisation), microbiology (S. aureus culture and AMR profiling), flow cytometry (immune profiling) and histology (assessing host wound healing). This studentship will appeal to a candidate with a strong interest in Microbiology, Immunology and/or Biochemistry.

Relevant references from the supervisory team:

For informal inquiries, please contact Dr Holly Wilkinson ([Email Address Removed]). 

Location and Research Culture 

The successful candidate will join the internationally renowned Hull York Medical School, embedded in a £28 million state-of-the-art Health Campus at the University of Hull. Hull is also a brilliant place to live, with a recent study finding that Hull provides the most reasonable rental prices in Britain. The student will be located in an active and vibrant research group at the Daisy Research Laboratories, Castle Hill Hospital (Hull), where they will be supervised by experts in the fields of skin/wound microbiology and tissue repair. The student will undertake a research placement at the University of York under the direction of Dr Paul Fogg (co-supervisor) and will learn key immunological techniques with Dr Stefano Caserta (HYMS co-supervisor at Hull).

Hull York Medical School’s unique partnership brings together the expertise of both the Universities of Hull and York and offers a thriving environment in which to conduct world-leading research. The Medical School delivers outstanding academic and clinical research with over 85% classed as internationally excellent. 

This exceptional opportunity will provide academic training in wound biology and microbiology from the wider research team – working on an area with the potential to improve the health of people locally and impacting national and international health agendas. 

Named Academic 

Dr Holly Wilkinson, Lecturer in Wound Healing, Centre for Biomedicine. Email: [Email Address Removed]

Start Date 

1st July 2023

Qualification Required 

You will require an undergraduate degree with at least a 2.1, or MSc/MRes, in a relevant subject (Biomedical Sciences, Cell Biology, Microbiology, Biochemistry or related discipline). If English is not your first language you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ with a minimum of 6.0 in all components.

How to Apply 

All applications MUST BE submitted to Hull York Medical School via the online application method choosing the option PhD in Medical Sciences 2023 July, full time: 

When prompted for a research proposal, please instead upload a statement outlining your academic interests. A research proposal is not necessary for this project.  

In order for the Panel to get a sense of your academic background, commitment and interest, you are required to complete the application form in full. Personal statements may be used in selecting applicants for interview. If you have any queries on how to apply please email [Email Address Removed].

The deadline for applications is Sunday 30th April 2023 and is only available to home-fee paying students. 

Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

This is a fully funded full-time project. The studentship will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for 4 years at current UKRI rates. This project is only available to home-fee paying students.
Please note that this is a student scholarship. If you will be employed by HYMS (e.g. on a fixed or short term contract) for the duration of your study, you will not be eligible to receive the student scholarship as a member of HYMS staff.