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Investigating acute inflammatory responses to bacteria and fungi in microbial keratitis for translation to novel diagnostic and treatment strategies

   College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

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  Dr Beth Mills, Prof A G Rossi  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

·        Background 

Microbial Keratitis (MK) - an infection of the cornea caused by invading bacteria or fungi - is an ophthalmic emergency and a major cause of blindness. Poor patient outcomes from MK are multifactorial and relate to access to care, limitations in current diagnostic procedures and treatment options. These usually target only the invading microorganism with antimicrobials, without mitigation of excessive and uncontrolled inflammatory responses, which leads to scarring and corneal perforation.

Working with our collaborators at the Aravind Eye Care System, India (the world’s largest and most productive eye care system) we are seeking to better understand these fundamental inflammatory processes in order to develop new diagnostic and treatment strategies to ultimately improve patient outcomes.  

·        About the Project

The applicant will receive training in, and have the opportunity to perform fundamental biological research into host-pathogen interactions and the inflammatory responses to MK at the molecular level (including development of cell-culture systems, ex vivo porcine corneal infection models and working with patient tear and corneal tissue samples in omics based approaches). The insights gained will enable target selection for the development and evaluation of novel activity-based biosensors (chemistries which report on pathogen or host response – synthesised in-house), and the rational selection of immunomodulatory agents for incorporation into the model systems. There will be significant scope for research exchange to the Aravind Eye Care System to carry out fundamental research, diagnostic prototype evaluation, and to better understand the clinical and community requirements for alternative diagnostic and treatment options for MK. This knowledge will feed into our needs-driven, user-centric translational strategy. 

The applicant will be placed within a dynamic, multidisciplinary team and will have the opportunity to collaborate with a wide group of researchers, including microbiologists, immunologists, chemists, engineers, healthcare technologists and clinicians both in the UK and India.     

 The research group is located in the University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research; a world-class research environment at the interface between biological and medical science, with multidisciplinary groupings focused on inflammation, infection, disease and repair. The Centre is based within the Edinburgh Medical School in the outstanding facilities of the Queen’s Medical Research Institute at the site of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh hospital, maximising future translational opportunities.

As part of the application process, please fill and submit the online application form. 

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will be awarded a 4 year studentship, which includes their stipend at the UKRI rate (AY 2021/22: £15,609), tuition fees, and contributions towards travel and research costs for their PhD project.
The studentship will be awarded competitively. Applicants should hold at least an upper second class degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline (eg immunology, microbiology, biochemistry, biology). Applicants should submit the following documents: (i) Personal statement about their research interests and their reasons for applying; and (ii) CV.


Applicants should also arrange for two academic referees to submit letters of reference via email before the deadline , including "Reference for [applicants’ name] UKRI -FLF PhD" in the subject.
All documents should be submitted to no later than 5pm on 21 February.
Short-listed candidates will be notified by email.
Informal enquiries can be sent via email to
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