Living Systems Institute, Streatham Campus, Exeter
The University of Exeter’s Living Systems Institute is inviting applications for a PhD studentship fully-funded by DSTL and the University of Exeter to commence on 1 December 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £16,062 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. The student would be based in the Living Systems Institute at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.
We cannot see bacteria but there are around ten trillion of them in us or on us, thus ten times more the number of our own cells. Many bacteria are beneficial for us, some however, can cause infectious diseases such as meningitis or pneumonia. Indeed, bacterial infections are one of the leading causes of death worldwide and cause in excess of 5 million deaths per year.
Antibiotics save millions of lives combatting infectious diseases. However, several bacteria are resistant to antibiotic treatment. Therefore, we urgently need to develop strategies to enhance the accumulation of antibiotics near their bacterial targets, for example, by using combination therapies with multiple antibiotics (Nature 559, 259, 2018).
In order to understand the biological mechanisms underlying antibiotic uptake and efflux in bacteria, you will use a novel microfluidic technology that has recently been developed in Dr Pagliara’s team at the Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter (BMC Biol. 15, 121, 2017; Lab Chip 20, 2765 2020; RSC Chem. Biol. 1, 395, 2020). You will work in collaboration with the team of Dr Blaskovich at the University of Queensland, and Dr Serpi, University of Cardiff, to synthesise fluorescent derivatives of commonly used antibiotics and novel antibiotics, respectively.
Combined with a fluorescence microscope, these microfluidic devices and fluorescent probes will allow you to measure antibiotics entering or exiting individual bacteria as well as measuring the efficacy of these compounds in killing bacteria. You will then apply omics approaches to identify genes and proteins that allow individual bacteria to escape antibiotic treatment.
Using this knowledge and bioinformatics you will identify compounds that help antibiotics to enter and kill individual bacteria. You will test newly identified combination therapies in simple infection models, such as the wax moth Galleria mellonella, under the supervision of Prof Isobel Norville at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.
Over the past ten years, single-microbe research has taken off around the globe engaging teams of scientists from different disciplines. As part of our battle against antibiotic resistance, by studying antibiotic uptake and efflux in single bacteria your project will provide crucial novel knowledge for the development of new antibacterial therapies and a better use of existing ones.
This award provides annual funding to cover Home tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay Home tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £16,062 per year tax-free stipend. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend.
International applicants need to be aware that you will have to cover the cost of your student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to do a PhD.
The conditions for eligibility of home fees status are complex and you will need to seek advice if you have moved to or from the UK (or Republic of Ireland) within the past 3 years or have applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
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 Biosciences, Biochemistry, Biophysics or similar fields of study.
If English is not your first language you will need to meet the required level (Profile B) as per our guidance at https://www.exeter.ac.uk/pg-research/apply/english/
How to apply
In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents.
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
• Two references from referees familiar with your academic work. If your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to [Email Address Removed] quoting the studentship reference number.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.
The closing date for applications is midnight on Thursday 30th June 2022.
Interviews will be held either virtually or on the University of Exeter Streatham Campus in the week commencing 20th June 2022 or shortly thereafter.
If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email [Email Address Removed] or phone 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers) +44 (0) 1392 723044 (EU/International callers) .
Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor.
For further information and to submit and application please visit - https://www.exeter.ac.uk/study/funding/award/?id=4468