Transmissible Antimicrobial Resistance in the Respiratory Microbiome

   Institute of Microbiology and Infection

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  Dr Michelle Buckner, Dr MJ Cox, Dr A Turner  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Additional supervisor Dr Fiona Whelan, University of Nottingham.

Informal enquiries to be sent to the project supervisor Dr Michelle Buckner [Email Address Removed]

Person Specification

Applicants should have a strong background in microbiology, and ideally a background in bioinformatics, immunology and/or biochemistry. They should have a commitment to research in microbiology and hold or realistically expect to obtain at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a related field, including but not limited to: Biomedical Science, Microbiology, Immunology, Biochemistry.

Project Details:

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) causes significant morbidity and mortality. The key driver of AMR is the use and misuse of antimicrobials. The human conditions responsible for the highest levels of antibiotic prescriptions is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a chronic inflammatory disease which results in difficulties breathing. Importantly, a disordered lung microbiome has been implicated in worsening symptoms of COPD. Surprisingly though, little is known about the levels of AMR that reside within the COPD lung microbiome. We hypothesise that the frequent use of antibiotics in this patient population will drive the evolution of antibiotic resistance and select for the transmission of AMR genes between lung microbiome members. This project will use a unique combination of whole genome sequencing, culturomics, and phenotypic analysis to investigate a pre-existing collection of COPD microbiome isolates to determine the levels of AMR within these bacteria and their potential to be transmitted between strains.

 We provide an interdisciplinary supervisory team of bioinformaticians and microbiologists, scientists and clinicians. This project provides an excellent opportunity for the student to build on their existing skills in microbiology and to develop skills in highly sought after areas, including AMR, genomics, respiratory disease, microbiome science, statistical analysis and bioinformatics.

How to apply

Click on the institution website which will redirect you to the MRC AIM website for full details and the application forms to complete. Please ensure your application is submitted by the deadline of midday (GMT) Friday 12 January 2024 as incomplete application will not be considered.

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

This is a fully funded studentship provided by the Medical Research Council.
If you are successful, you will receive a stipend (currently £18,622 per year for 2023/24) and a tuition fee waiver for 4 years.
Successful candidates will also receive an allowance for a laptop, a travel and conference allowance and an allowance for laboratory/PhD running costs.


(1) O’Neill, J., Antimicrobial Resistance: Tackling a crisis for the health and wealth of nations. 2014.
(2) Murphy TF. Vaccines for Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae: the Future Is Now. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2015 May;22(5):459-66. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00089-15. Epub 2015 Mar 18. PMID: 25787137; PMCID: PMC4412935.
(3) Smith D, Gill A, Hall L, Turner AM. Prevalence, Pattern, Risks Factors and Consequences of Antibiotic Resistance in COPD: A Systematic Review. COPD. 2021 Dec;18(6):672-682. doi: 10.1080/15412555.2021.2000957. Epub 2022 Jan 11. PMID: 35016569.
(4) Wedzicha JA, Seemungal TA. COPD exacerbations: defining their cause and prevention. Lancet. 2007 Sep 1;370(9589):786-96. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61382-8.

Where will I study?