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PhD studentship in Molecular Microbiology - Molecular basis of nutrient competition between invading gut pathogens and the microbiota

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  • Full or part time
    Dr J Connolly
  • 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

The gastrointestinal tract is home to trillions of microbial cells, known as the microbiota. Anaerobic Bacteroidetes play a key role by scavenging and degrading complex sugars obtained from host, dietary and microbial origins. Alternatively, facultative anaerobes such as Escherichia coli exclusively use simple sugars as sources of energy, believed to limit competition for nutrients with the Bacteroidetes.

Human-pathogenic enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) employ a Type 3 Secretion System to intimately attach to the host intestine. ‘Sensing’ of nutrients as signals drives expression of this molecular weapon. Intuitively, EHEC has adapted to use specific sugars for growth and regulatory signals independently. This project will explore metabolic systems in EHEC that are highly expressed and critical during infection.


Investigate the role of specific nutrients and host-induced metabolic genes in EHEC interactions with the microbiota.
Explore how nutrients influence genome-wide regulation.
Determine the role of metabolism during infection using a human stem-cell derived culture system.
This interdisciplinary project offers an exciting training opportunity by fusing cutting-edge techniques in genetics, molecular biology, cell-culture and bioinformatics to investigate an important biological question.

Newcastle University – Barbour Foundation

Name of supervisor(s)
Dr James Connolly(
Dr Elisabeth Lowe (
Dr Christopher Stewart (

Eligibility Criteria
You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree in a related area of the Biosciences. A Master’s level qualification and/or research experience is beneficial.

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 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 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 BI015 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 BI015 and state how your interests/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 that 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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