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Understanding Factors That Regulate Respiratory Microbiota


Project Description

This PhD project is based in Hull York Medical School.

The upper respiratory tract is colonized by an extensive and diverse normal microbiota, many constituents of which are potential pathogens.

By contrast, the abundance and diversity of bacteria substantially decreases as you move to the lower respiratory tract. Emerging literature links changes in the composition of this respiratory tract microbiome to the development and progression of a range of diseases.

In order to damage the host, opportunistic pathogens must proliferate and overcome local immune defences. They do this in part by producing virulence factors or endotoxins, and adopting biofilm characteristics. Few studies to date have attempted to address the species-level complexity of the respiratory tract microbiota.

In this PhD you will employ state-of-the-art species-level sequencing technology to investigate the relationship between upper respiratory tract/oropharyngeal and lower respiratory tract microbiota (sputum vs lavage samples). You will frame this new knowledge in the context of the host response and investigate how over-the-counter medications change the respiratory tract microbiota.

More about this research team

We are looking for talented candidates to join a multi-disciplinary cluster of four funded PhD scholarships. Working with a major industry partner you will develop and apply cutting edge microbiome profiling technologies to real world clinical and consumer applications.

We are covered, inside and out, by diverse communities of microorganisms, collectively termed our ‘microbiota’. These microorganisms are intimately associated with their micro-environment, producing a range of factors that regulate both our heath and susceptibility to disease.

As a student within this cluster you will focus on understanding the microbial complexity of the skin or respiratory tract, two tissues that are currently poorly studied. You will explore new ways to promote a “healthy” microbiome, test the microbe-supporting effects of new products, or develop new methods to characterise the resistance of wound bacteria at the population level.

Supervised by a team of internationally recognised academics you will have access to outstanding research facilities, including the Hull “VIPER” high performance computing, and NHS/clinical partners.

These projects will provide unique “big data” bioscience training, within a vibrant, supportive research environment, equipping you with skills that are essential for a future career in modern academia or industry.

Applicants for this project need to apply through the University of York website. Please select PhD in Medical Sciences with a start date of “2020 October, full time” and quote the specific project title you wish to apply for.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a 1st class undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science, Microbiology or Computing, together with relevant research experience or a Masters level qualification in a relevant discipline. A 2:1 may be considered, if combined with relevant experience.

Successful applicants will be informed of the award as soon as possible and by 16 March 2020 at the latest.

Scholarships will start on 21 September 2020.

Funding Notes

This is a funded scholarship over a three year period for full-time study. The funding you receive will cover the fees for your PhD programme and also an annual maintenance grant at the level of UKRI (£15,009 in 2019/20).

There is an optional writing up period if you need to complete your thesis after the three year period of your research degree, for which there is a small charge. Your maintenance grant will not cover you during this optional writing up period.

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