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Subversion of small GTPases for host exploitation by intracellular bacterial pathogens

Project Description

The rise of antibiotic resistance as well as growing populations with compromised health and immunity, make bacterial pathogens one of the most important threats to human health and global development. Host-directed antimicrobial therapies, which harness and boost the exceptional power of the human immune system, have low propensity for resistance development and are a promising alternative to antibiotics; however, their development requires a depth of understanding of how bacterial pathogens subvert the immune system to thrive and cause disease, which we currently do not have.

In this project you will tackle this problem and use cutting edge proteomics, imaging and cellular microbiology methods to dissect how the emerging respiratory pathogens Burkholderia cenocepacia and Legionella pneumophila manipulate the signalling networks of macrophages, key players of antibacterial immune defences. You will carry out this highly interdisciplinary research within the Schroeder and Valvano research teams at the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine and benefit from close collaboration with the mass spectrometry specialists in the Collins Lab at QUB. Moreover, a 1-3 month research stay with a collaborator in Germany is planned as part of the work.


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

INTO Queen’s English Language Courses offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained at:

Funding Notes

*FUNDING CONFIRMED – Department for the Economy (DfE) Award*

Eligibility for both fees (£4,327 for 2019/20, 2020/21 TBC) and maintenance (£15,009 for 2019/20, 2020/21 TBC) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK resident or those EU residents who have lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship.

Non UK residents who hold EU residency may also apply but if successful may receive fees only.

For further details re eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) please click on the following link: View Website


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Experimental Medicine, website for further details about the Centre:

When applying, please choose 'MEDICINE' as your subject area/School.

Related Subjects

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