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Tackling antibiotic resistance: developing a vaccine against gonorrhoea

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  • Full or part time
    Prof J P Derrick
    Dr F Hayes
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Gonorrhoea is caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae and is a serious public health problem in developing and developed countries. A major source of concern is the rising incidence of antibiotic resistance of the organism. An effective vaccine would offer a solution: to date, however, progress has been slow. This project will use an approach which targets specific proteins in the bacterial outer membrane, expresses them in recombinant form, purifies them and then incorporates them into an antigen microarray. This microarray can then be screened for IgG antibodies using sera from inoculated mice or humans who have received an outer membrane vesicle vaccine. By profiling antigens in this way, we can identify which outer membrane proteins are most effective in promoting an immunogenic response, and hence could be potential vaccine components (Awanye et al 2019). Further work will then engineer these identified outer membrane proteins, to make them suitable for incorporation into a vaccine. The project would suit a student with a background in Biochemistry or Molecular Immunology, who has an interest in vaccine development.

Entry Requirements:
Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Microbiology or a related discipline. Candidates with experience in Protein Biochemistry and an interest in Vaccinology are encouraged to apply.

For international students we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 2 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website ( For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.


Awanye, A. et al. Immunogenicity profiling of protein antigens from capsular group B Neisseria meningitidis. Scientific Reports 6843(2019).

Humbert, M.V., Awanye, A.M., Lian, L.-Y., Derrick, J.P. & Christodoulides, M. Structure of the Neisseria Adhesin Complex Protein (ACP) and its role as a novel lysozyme inhibitor. PLoS Path. 13, e1006448 (2017).

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