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PhD Studentship - Harnessing the Microbiota to kill Antibiotic Resistant Mycobacteria

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  • Full or part time
    Dr E Lowe
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Number of awards

Start date and duration
28 September 2020. 3 Year PhD

Non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) such as Mycobacterium abscessus are pathogens which can colonise immunocompromised patients, particularly those with Cystic Fibrosis. They are extremely difficult to treat, and are resistant to many antibiotics, partly due to the complex structure of their cell walls. The complex cell wall structure of NTM species includes glycan structures unique to these microbes, essential for viability.

Excitingly, we have found a number of gut bacterial species able to grow on mycobacterial glycans, and have started to isolate the enzymes they use. This project aims to develop innovative routes to understanding and treating NTM through targeting their complex cell walls with these glycan degrading enzymes.

Using enzymes to investigate the difference in cell wall structures between clinical NTM isolates
Investigating how cell wall degrading enzymes alter NTM susceptibility to current antibiotics
Developing a cocktail of enzymes to hydrolyse mycobacterial cell walls
The student will be trained in a variety of glycobiology, enzymology and microbiology techniques, and have the opportunity to work with clinical microbiologists to explore these new enzymes as a route to understand and treat NTM

Newcastle University

Name of supervisor(s)
Dr Elisabeth Lowe (, Dr Chris Ward ( (Newcastle), Dr Patrick Moynihan (University of Birmingham

Eligibility Criteria
You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honors degree in Biochemistry, Microbiology, biomedical science or a related area. A further qualification such as an MSc or MRes is advantageous.

This award is available to UK/EU and international applicants.

To study this course you need to meet the following English Language requirements:

IELTS 6.5 overall (with a minimum of 5.5 in all other sub-skills).

How to apply
You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create a new account’ (

Only mandatory fields need to be completed. However, you will need to include the following information:

insert the programme code 8300F* in the programme of study section
select ‘PhD in the Faculty of Medical Sciences – Biosciences as the programme of study
insert the studentship code BI012 in the studentship/partnership reference field
attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote the studentship reference code BI012 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications

* The online application system will only allow one application using the programme code 8300F. If you are applying for TWO or more projects using that code then you will need to email our Postgraduate Admissions Service ([Email Address Removed]) with the following information:

your application number (from the first project application you submitted online)
the second studentship code and its corresponding title
a two page covering letter for the second project

Our Postgraduate Admissions ( Service will then forward this information to the relevant selector in the Faculty of Medical Sciences.

[Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £15,285 (full award). Successful international candidates will be required to make up the difference between the UK/EU fees and international fees.

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