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Project to identify and optimise phages for UTI treatment

Department of Genetics and Genome Biology

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Prof M Clokie , Dr Melissa Haines No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Project to identify and optimise phages for UTI treatment

Urinary tract infections (or UTIs) are a significant problem worldwide, with significant morbidity and if not treated can lead to worse conditions such as sepsis. The bacteria that cause them, largely E. coli and Klebsiella, are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

Bacteriophages, or phages for short, are viruses that target bacteria. They are being increasingly investigated as alternatives to treat multidrug resistant bacteria.

In the initial stages, it is likely that phages will be used as a compliment to antibiotics rather than a replacement, it is not known how best to use phages and antibiotics synergistically although some exciting evidence has shown that they can be used to reduce the effective antibiotic dose needed for treatment.

Another limiting factor for the development of bacteriophages, relates to their specificity. In order to target all of the strains of bacteria that cause UTIs, even if the main focus is E. coli and Klebsiella, multiple bacteriophages are needed to have effective coverage. Often it is not easy to identify bacteriophages that target key clinically relevant strains. One way to circumvent this is to use advanced screening methods.

In this project the student will carry out three major tasks;

1) They will carry out high throughput screening of effective phages with standard antibiotics that are used to treat infection, they will establish which antibiotics work synergistically with the relevant phages, and how antibiotics impact phage resistance.
2) To enhance previously designed phage cocktails by experiments to assess suitably of phage substitutions. This will include using our novel laboratory methods to identify novel phages as well as use of our established phage library.
3) Novel phages will be used in the antibiotic synergy testing.

The student will work with clinical lecturer Dr Melissa Haines, with phage support from Prof Clokie, novel screening approaches from Dr Ed Galyov and with bioinformatic support from Dr Andrew Millard.

The applicant should have a keen interest in bacteriophage biology, at least at 2:1 degree in a related subject, and preferably a good working knowledge of microbiology and molecular biology.

Please apply online at
Include ’Prof Clokie Studentship’ in the funding section.

Upload your CV, personal statement, copies of degree certificates and transcripts and evidence of English proficiency if applicable. You do not need to include a proposal but include the supervisor and project title on the proposal section in the space provided
Enter the contact details of two academic supervisors including their email addresses in the text boxes provided or upload letters of reference if you already hold these.

NOTE the application link is for January 2021 but the proposed start date is 1 November - this is fine we will adjust the dates on our system if an offer is made.

Funding Notes

3 Year Studentship provided by a Charitable Grant

The funding will include stipend and tuition fees at UK/EU rates.

International students who apply must be able to fund the difference between UK /EU and International fees.

The UK fee waiver is £4,407 per year
The overseas fee is £20,825 per year
The difference in fees that an international student will need to pay £16,418 per year for 2020/1
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