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Improving the success of antibody based drugs by characterising the patients’ immune system

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, November 17, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The University of Bath, in conjunction with Qualasept Ltd, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship.


Lead supervisor: Dr Andrew Watts, Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology, University of Bath
Co-supervisor: Dr Kevin Marchbank, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University
Co-supervisor: Dr John Pauling, Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology, University of Bath


Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are an important class of drug used in the treatment of many diseases including cancers and represent one of the fastest growing sectors in the pharmaceutical industry. The therapeutic benefits of mAbs often occur as a result of their ability to stimulate multiple biological processes in our body, in particular, different cells important to our immune system. As such, it is not surprising that the way in which our immune system interacts with the drug can significantly impact the effectiveness of these treatments and their success in fighting a wide range of diseases.

This project seeks to develop novel methods for predicting the success of mAb therapies by gaining a deeper understanding of how our immune system interacts with the particular drug. We aim to develop new methods to characterise a persons’ individual immune system. This is important because a patients’ immune system can see biological drugs as foreign and that reactivity can be visualised via immunoglobulin reactivity to the drugs using a number of techniques, such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). We will determine the extent to which this reactivity can be used to predict drug safety and drug stability; i.e. predict the ability of the ‘population’ to tolerate a drug formulation, as well as the likelihood the drug will be effective in treating the disease.

This is a multi-disciplinary project between the Departments of Pharmacy/ Pharmacology at the University of Bath, the Department of Medicine at the University of Newcastle, and is industrially sponsored by Qualasept Ltd. The project will provide training in cutting-edge technology including the areas of biotechnology, immunology, cell biology, protein biochemistry and analysis, and organic chemistry. In addition to state of the art facilities (e.g. confocal microscopy) and training at the University, the student will also gain added value by having the opportunity to directly interact with the Qualasept’s internal R&D team and enhance transferable skills by making presentations to the company.

For more information about the project, please contact the lead supervisor, Dr Andrew Watts, on email address: .


Applicants for this 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 the area of Immunology, Biotechnology, Cell Biology, or a related discipline.


Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form:

Please ensure that you quote the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Should you have questions about the application process, please contact .

Anticipated start date: 20 January 2020.

Funding Notes

UK and EU candidates applying for this project will be considered for a University Research Studentship which will cover UK/EU tuition fees, a training support fee of £1,000 per annum and a tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate (£15,009 in 2019-20) for a period of up to 3.5 years.

How good is research at University of Bath in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 54.20

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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