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  Investigating immune responses to skin and soft tissue infection


   School of Medicine and Population Health

  , ,  Friday, July 19, 2024  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI) caused by the Gram-positive bacteriaStaphylococcus aureus are common and frequently require antimicrobial treatment or hospitalisation. Unchecked, consequences of S. aureus infection can be devastating, including end-organ damage and death. New tools to prevent infection are urgently needed due to the increase in antimicrobial resistant strains (such as MRSA); recent data suggest S. aureus is the most common bacterial cause of death in 135 countries worldwide. Despite being common, little is understood about the human immune response to S. aureus infection especially in the skin, where the outcome of infection is likely to be determined and therefore a potential vaccine target. Using human samples and data collected through our portfolio of previous and upcoming clinical studies, including novel human challenge models, the aim of this PhD studentship will be to investigate the innate and early adaptive immune responses to S. aureus infection. Building on work currently being performed in the group, you will develop novel long-read single-cell RNA sequencing approaches using Oxford Nanopore Technology for accurate cell-phenotyping, initially using blood samples collected from healthy adults and patients with active/prior SSTI. Subsequent work will develop this method for investigating the cellular infiltrate from negative-pressure suction blister aspirates. Further techniques to investigate immune cell function and validate findings would include cytokine arrays (MesoScale Discovery) and protein assay (Fluidigm/Olink).

This work would be performed in the welcoming and closely supported environment of our successful Clinical Infection Research Group, supervised by Dr Tom Darton, Professor Thushan de Silva and Dr Adri Angyal (https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/smph /people/clinical- medicine). You will have the opportunity to attend weekly laboratory meetings, research seminars and frequent research days. We encourage the dissemination of results at national/international conferences, in addition to participation in public engagement activities. You will benefit from an excellent Doctoral Development Programme and we will encourage you to access the wide array of training and support provision within the faculty and university, to equip you with the skills and confidence to progress your career.

Entry Requirements:

Candidates must have a first or upper second class honors degree or significant research experience.

We would also expect applicants to have completed or be undertaking a relevant master’s degree to a similar very high standard (or have equivalent research experience).

How to apply:

We anticipate that interviews for this project will be held during the first week of August. If you think that you will not be available for interview during this time, please notify the supervisor via the the enquiries email below to discuss possible alternative dates.

Please complete a University Postgraduate Research Application form available here:

www.shef.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/apply

Please clearly state the prospective main supervisor in the respective box and select School of Medicine and Population Health: Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease as the department.

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

The scholarship covers UK Home tuition fees and a tax-free stipend at the UKRI rate (£19,232 for students starting in October 2024) for 3.5 years.

Students worldwide are welcome to apply but will need to fund the overseas fee difference of approximately £24,000/year.


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