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PhD programme in Integrated One Health Solutions in Edinburgh and Leiden - Empowering antibiotics using host defence peptides to fight antimicrobial resistance in respiratory infections

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  • Full or part time
    Prof D Davidson
    Prof J Dorin
    Dr M Vendrell Escobar
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

• Background
A PhD training partnership has been set up between the Universities of Edinburgh and Leiden in One Health Integrated Solutions. The partnership recruited its first cohort of students in December 2019. Further studentships are now available.
The programme is hosted by the Centre for Inflammation Research in partnership with Edinburgh Infectious Diseases and the Roslin Institute, and two further PhD studentships based in Edinburgh and fully funded for four years focused on Integrated One Health Solutions are now available. These will cover stipend , tuition fee and travel funds.
The aim is to foster collaboration and to build on existing synergies in the identified themes of this call. Our universities have a long record of collaborative research and teaching, in particular in the fields of medicine and infectious diseases.
The two additional studentships will complete the initial cohort and ensure each University funds four studentships. These additional two studentships will commence in the autumn of 2020 in areas previously identified where significant joint interest and expertise were identified with evidence of potential cross centre collaboration.
It is envisaged that these two students will be registered for their degree in the University of Edinburgh and be co-supervised with at least one co-supervisor coming from the University of Leiden. It is the expectation that students will spend time in each institution, with a minimum of 12 months in the University of Leiden.
Information about investigators from Leiden and Edinburgh and the specific projects available in this call, aligned with ‘One Health’, are given below.
Students should identify their first choice project plus a second choice they would consider undertaking from the list of projects available – see link to other projects below.
The selection process will involve an interview with members from both institutions.

Supervisors: Prof Donald J. Davidson, Prof Julia Dorin and Dr Marc Vendrell (Edinburgh), Dr Peter Nibbering and Prof Pieter Hiemstra (Leiden)

Project Title: Empowering antibiotics using host defence peptides to fight antimicrobial resistance in respiratory infections

Antimicrobial Host Defence Peptides (HDP) show great promise in combating multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria. We have developed a new class of synthetic antibacterial and anti-biofilm peptides (SAAPs), with enhanced activity against MDR pathogens. We will screen libraries of SAAPs and analogues developed in Leiden, modified variants (e.g. PEGylated), and novel peptide sets (based on endogenous humans, chicken, pig and drosophila HDP) for their ability to enhance i) host defences, and ii) efficacy of conventional antibiotics against MDR bacteria, i.e. MRSA, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Streptococcus pneumonia (including those within biofilms). Antimicrobial activity of selected peptides will be verified in presence/absence of antibiotics on the apical surface of air-liquid cultured airway epithelial cells. In addition, candidate peptides will be screened for complementary protective innate immune-enhancing impact on neutrophil and macrophage function (e.g. ROS production, chemotaxis, phagocytosis and bacterial killing). The antimicrobial properties of these HDP and antibiotics will also be studied in epithelial cell cultures pre-exposed to inducers of endogenous HDP. Using a complementary in vivo modelling strategy, Crispr/Cas9 generated, HDP-deleted, pathogen-sensitive drosophila will be used to study bacterial killing of MDR pathogens, by native HDP peptides alone or in synergy with novel therapeutic HDP and/or antibiotics.

Complete list of available projects:

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will be awarded a 4 year studentship, which includes their stipend (UKRI rate), tuition fees and is open to students from any country in the world. Funding covers contributions towards travel, up to 12 months living expenses at the second centre and research costs.

Applicants should hold at least an upper second-class degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline, e.g. immunology, microbiology, biology or fields related to the specific project.

Please submit the following to [Email Address Removed]:

(i) Personal statement (200 words)
(ii) CV
(iii) ranking choice of top 2 projects
(iv) Fill the online application form


The studentship will be awarded competitively. Applicants should also arrange for two academic referees to submit letters of reference by email to [email protected] before the deadline.

All documents should be submitted no later than 5pm GMT on 15 May 2020
Short-listed candidates will be notified by email.
Informal enquiries can be sent via email to Prof Donald Davidson [email protected]

Please follow the guidelines on how to apply:

Related Subjects

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