Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now

  Mapping Drug-Parasite-Host Interactions to Overcome Leishmaniasis Treatment Failures

   Hull York Medical School

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  Dr Katrien Van Bocxlaer  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

About the project:

Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD to join an innovative research program aiming to revolutionize drug treatment paradigms for the neglected tropical disease leishmaniasis.

Project Overview:

Current leishmaniasis chemotherapies frequently fail due to suboptimal drug exposures at the infection site, allowing parasite subpopulations to survive and spread. The overarching goal is to investigate the role of drug distribution dynamics and Leishmania parasite dissemination in the emergence of clearance, persistence, and recurrent infection. This project will apply animal models and cutting-edge 3D liver and skin organotypic models mimicking visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis microenvironments to map the spatiotemporal interplay between drug biodistribution, parasite burden, and host immune responses.


1)   Develop advanced 3D skin and liver organotypic models containing Leishmania parasites;

2)   Optimise bioanalytical techniques (LC-MS/MS, HPLC) to measure drug concentrations in multiple biological matrices;

3)   Apply multi-parametric imaging to map drug biodistribution, parasite burden, and host immune responses;

4)   Validate translation of organ-model predictions using in vivo mouse models of leishmaniasis.

Typical assays will include primary cell culture, molecular biology, flow cytometry, IVIS imaging, immunohistochemistry and LC-MS/MS bioanalyses. Experiments will take place using both mouse models and human-derived material.

Entry Requirements:

Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with any biological, chemical, and/or pharmacy science backgrounds.

The York Biomedical Research Institute at the University of York is committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, religion/belief, marital status, pregnancy and maternity, or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.

For informal inquiries, please contact Dr Katrien Van Bocxlaer ([Email Address Removed])

Location and Research Culture

The project will take place within the Experimental Medicine and Biomedicine group at Hull York Medical School at the University of York, including the HYMS Skin Research Centre.

Hull York Medical School is a unique partnership bringing together the expertise of both the Universities of Hull and York and offering a thriving environment in which to conduct world-leading research. Strong partnerships with NHS Trusts and community health organisations offer a wide clinical base that fosters translation of biomedical research to improve health. Our research is a key component of the York Biomedical Research Institute.

You will be part of a vibrant post-graduate community within the medical school but also interacting with students from other PhD Programmes at the University of York. You will have access to the University of York Biosciences Technology Facility, allowing the use of cutting-edge equipment to support the research as needed for the project (e.g. imaging, bioinformatics etc.) You will be supported by a thesis advisory panel, and will follow a training programme on transferable and research skills.

Start Date

1st October 2024

Qualification Required

In order to qualify for this scholarship you will require an undergraduate degree with at least a 2.1, or equivalent, in a relevant subject. English Language IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component.

How to Apply

All applications MUST BE submitted to Hull York Medical School via the online application method choosing option PhD in Medical Sciences 2021 October, full time or part time:

The deadline for applications is the 28th March 2024.

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 and provide a research proposal/outline of academic interest. Research proposals and personal statements may be used in selecting applicants for interview. If you have any queries on how to apply please email [Email Address Removed].

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. 


Applicants who are shortlisted for interview will be contacted via email. If you are not invited for the interview, it means that your application has not been successful. Please note that we do not offer feedback to applicants who are not invited to the interview.

Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

This 4-year full-time studentship will be funded by the Hull York Medical School. The funding will include:
- Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£TBC for 2024/25 academic year)
- UK tuition fees.
- Research support and training charges, covering laboratory consumables and training costs.
- International and EU students will need to have sufficient funds to cover the difference in fee costs (see laboratory-based degrees here) and the costs of their student visa, NHS health surcharge, travel insurance and transport to the UK as these will not be covered by the studentship.

Where will I study?