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Snake venomics and the quest for universally efficacious antivenoms (Ref: SF20/APP/MOSCHOS5)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Snakebite and envenomation is a WHO-declared neglected tropical disease plagues 5.5 million victims globally per year, causing nearly 150,000 deaths and 400,000 permanent disabilities. The answer to envenomation is the practically medieval practice of raising anti-venom anti-sera in horses, and injecting these to envenomation victims to counter the devastating, often necrotic impact of envenomation. Yet antivenom potency is surprisingly unpredictable, even within snake species.

We have recently shown that, contrary to popular belief, snake venoms are niche microenvironments that host multiple, viable microbes. The observed microbial phylogenetic diversity is relatively large, and the genomic diversity, at least among one prevalent isolate of Enterococcus faecalis, supportive of complex adaptive mechanisms to known antimicrobial functions in venom. Our preliminary data also pinpoint proteomic and metabolomic diversity in venom consistency between animals as the reason behind the unpredictable nature of antivenom potency.

The prospective student will have a background in biological or pharmaceutical sciences, preferably with relevant industry experience, and an interest in addressing one of the following angles for tackling the humanitarian need associated to envenomation:
1) Rapid testing solutions for envenomating animal species identification.
2) Venom core proteome and pan-proteome analysis within specific envenomating animal species.
3) Mechanisms of bacterial resistance to venom antimicrobial functions.

Please note: the group can accommodate up to three (3) separate successful applicants. You will work with Associate Professor S.A. Moschos and Dr. William Cheung, embedded within the global iVAMP consortium, and in collaboration with Venomtech Ltd. You will access our world-class third generation sequencing, proteomics and metabolomics facilities, recently upgraded through an 8 million UKRI grant. You will moreover join a highly energetic, fun, and committed multidisciplinary team with strong humanitarian and commercialisation focus, seeking to translate basic science into patient care.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see
https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/research/postgraduate-research-degrees/how-to-apply/

Please note: Applications should include a covering letter that includes a short summary (500 words max.) of a relevant piece of research that you have previously completed. Applications that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF20/…) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: 1st July for October start, or 1st December for March start
Start Date: October or March

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Please direct enquiries to Dr Sterghios Moschos ( or @docmoschos)

Funding Notes

Please note, this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend; the studentship is available to Students Worldwide. Fee bands are available at View Website . A relevant fee band will be discussed at interview based on project running costs.

References

Esmaelishirazifald, E., Usher, L., Kremmyda-Vlachou, M., Taylor, J., Barlow, A., Dalby, A., Trim, C., Denise, H., Wuster, W., Trim, S., & Moschos, S.A. Microbial adaptation to venom is common in snakes & spiders 2018. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/06/16/348433

Shah K., Bentley, E., Tyler A., Richards K.S., Wright, E., Easterbrook, L., Lee, D., Cleaver, C., Usher, L.,1 Burton J.E., Pitman, J.K., Bruce C.B., Edge, D., Lee, M., Nazareth, N., Norwood, D.A., & Moschos S.A. Field-deployable, Quantitative, Rapid Identification of Active Ebola Virus Infection in Unprocessed Blood. Chemical Science, 2017, 8:7780 – 7797.

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