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Understanding the role of gut microbiota in protecting the host against intestinal colonisation by multidrug-resistant organisms

Department of Life Sciences

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Dr J McDonald , Prof S Wigneshweraraj No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

A 3-year PhD studentship is available to work in the laboratory of Dr Julie McDonald, in the MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology and Infection (CMBI) at Imperial College London. The successful applicant will be joining an internationally renowned Research Centre, within one of the world’s top research universities.

The gut is colonised by a diverse collection of microorganisms collectively referred to as the gut microbiota. In healthy humans the gut microbiota protects the host against intestinal colonisation by pathogens (colonisation resistance). However, disruption of the gut microbiota can weaken colonisation resistance (e.g. following exposure to antibiotics), increasing the host’s susceptibility to colonisation by pathogens. This exciting PhD position, supervised by Dr Julie McDonald and Prof Gad Frankel, will investigate mechanisms of gut microbiota-mediated colonisation resistance that protect the host from intestinal colonisation by multidrug-resistant organisms.

The goal of this project is to identify bacteria, microbial metabolites, or microbial enzymes that protect the host against intestinal colonisation by multidrug-resistant organisms. This project will combine the use of artificial gut models (aka “chemostats” or “Roboguts”), faecal batch cultures, and “omic” profiling techniques (such as 16S rRNA gene sequencing and metabonomics) to study the role of the gut microbiota in MDRO intestinal colonisation. This project will lay the groundwork for the development of novel microbiome therapeutics to restore microbiota-mediated colonisation resistance and decolonise antibiotic resistant pathogens from the intestine. The student will be based in the Flowers Building, CMBI at the South Kensington Campus of Imperial College London, which provides state of the art facilities and an exciting PhD student training environment.

Candidates should have a background in microbiology and a strong interest in microbial ecology and infection. Prior experience with bioinformatics is desirable but not essential.

Candidates are expected to have a first class or upper second-class Honours degree in biological sciences (or other appropriate science subject), a Masters Degree is desirable but not essential. Applicants are also required to meet Imperial College’s English language requirements. Please see the following link: The studentship is available to UK/EU students only.

The project aims to start in November 2020, with some flexibility to start up to February 2021 depending on candidate circumstances.

Funding Notes

The 3-year studentship covers tuition fees and provides a tax-free stipend of £18,000 per annum.

To apply, please send a copy of your CV and a cover letter describing why you are suitable for this PhD studentship along with details of two referees to Nicola Tingley ([Email Address Removed]). Informal enquires can be sent to Dr Julie McDonald ([Email Address Removed]). Interviews will take place w/c 28 September 2020

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