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Membrane protein efflux pump dynamics in biofilm formation and multidrug resistance

   Biological Sciences

  ,  Thursday, August 31, 2023  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Membrane protein efflux pumps can expel a broad range of toxic substances out of bacteria which significantly contributes to multidrug resistance against functionally diverse antimicrobial drugs and biofilm formation. Biofilms typically pose a great issue for implants as they provide an ideal solid support to promote growth, thus treatment of such infections is extremely difficult, normally resulting in the removal of the implant.

Within this project we plan to expand our research in two ways: 1) the exploration of related efflux proteins and systems, away from the prototypical, to broaden our understanding of the fundamental role structural dynamics plays in multidrug resistance phenotypes, and 2) adapt our methods to interface with biofilm systems, to understand the role these efflux systems play in bacterial infection and resistance. To do this, microbiology, chemical biology, and advanced mass spectrometry strategies will be utilized and developed in unison to enable membrane protein dynamics to be deciphered within complex environments. Capturing these dynamics with Hydrogen/Deuterium eXchange Mass Spectrometry (HDX-MS), which measures the extent and rate of exchange of protein backbone amide hydrogens for deuterium. Combining these insights with biofilm systems and assays will provide unprecedented insight into the function of these systems, particularly on the impact of drug interactions and clinically relevant mutations.

We aim to uncover the structural dynamics of membrane proteins involved in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) of bacteria. AMR is recognised by the United Nations as a global health emergency. The projects’ focus is on multidrug efflux systems which play major roles in AMR, specifically the resistance-nodulation-division (RND) protein class.

Funding Notes

For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £17,668 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years funded by the University of Southampton.


We are seeking a highly motivated individual who enjoys working at the interface of microbiology and chemical biology and is keen to work in the field of antimicrobial resistance. This is an interdisciplinary project, and the student will receive training in a range of microbiology and chemical biology techniques. This is likely to include mass spectrometry, biophysical and biochemical techniques, molecular biology and cloning, and biofilm microbiology. The student will also have the option to attend relevant international conferences and training events.
How to apply:
A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, is preferred but other degree classifications will be considered depending on other experience).
• the project reference number
• any documents someone would need to supply (CV, references, degree transcripts)
• any other details someone would need once they begin the application process
First: Send your CV and cover letter to
Then, apply online: Search for a Postgraduate Programme of Study ( Select programme type (Research), 2023/24, Environmental and Life Sciences, next page select “PhD Biological Sciences (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Eamonn Reading
Applications should include: Personal statement, Curriculum Vitae, Two reference letters, Degree Transcripts/Certificates to date. For further information please contact:
If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Eamonn Reading, Email:

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