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  Understanding novel aspects of the phage infection process in WHO Critical pathogens using bacterial impedance cytometry

   Public Health

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  Dr Lucy Bock  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Clinicians are increasingly working with a limited range of antibiotics, which are becoming less effective as many bacteria develop resistance to them. In worst cases, this means that there are no antibiotics left to treat an infection.

Bacteriophage (phage) are viruses that kill specific bacteria and are potential treatment options for some of these difficult to treat infections. This is attractive, but each phage will only kill a certain range of bacteria and current laboratory tests can take more than 20 hours to confirm which phage to use for an individual infection. If we can determine effectiveness more rapidly, this would speed up the use of phage to treat infections, benefitting patients. 

Researchers at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and University of Southampton have developed a new technology, which measures electrical changes in bacteria when they are infected and killed by phage. Using this method, we can determine the susceptibility of bacteria to phage within 2-4 hours or less. We have clear results showing the differences between phage-susceptible and phage-resistant bacteria. Importantly, this new technology analyses single bacterial cells and provides data on aspects of phage infection of bacteria that have not been seen previously. This means that we have the tools to address unanswered questions about how the bacteria respond to infection by different types of phage. This project focuses on understanding the underlying science behind these responses, which are important in choosing treatment options, to improve and accelerate phage therapies. 

Qualifications: We invite applications from candidates who hold/or expect to gain a first or upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent), or an MSc or Master’s degree from a range of disciplines such as biological sciences, microbiology, physical sciences or biomedical engineering. Candidates with a lower second-class degree supplemented by a master’s qualification (in a relevant subject) will also be considered. This is interdisciplinary project, so experience in one of the other disciplines in addition to your primary degree subject is desirable. Interest in translation of new technologies into the health care system is essential. Knowledge of what is required to work within a CL-2 laboratory will also be desirable.

Funding: The studentship is funded for 3 years and includes tuition fees for UK students only, a stipend at the Wellcome Trust Rate (, and allowance for research consumables and travel.

It will be based at UK Health Security Agency, Technology Development Group, Porton, the University of Southampton, School of Electronics and Computer Science, and the University of the West of England, School of Applied Sciences. The successful candidate will be enrolled at the University of Southampton.

Start date: October 2024 or sooner if the right candidate is found

Supervisor contact details: for informal enquiries about this PhD position please contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Lucy Bock, [Email Address Removed]

To apply for this PhD, candidates are requested to send a one-page cover letter plus CV (including referees) to [Email Address Removed]. The selection process will involve a pre-selection on application documents; if selected, this will be followed by an invitation to interview.

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

The studentship is funded by UKHSA for 3 years and includes tuition fees for UK students only, a stipend which matches the Wellcome Trust starting rate and allowance for research consumables and travel.
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