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Unlocking the Molecular Mysteries of Cell Surface Decoration in Bacterial Pathogens

   Hull York Medical School

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  Dr Marjan Van Der Woude  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Bacterial pathogens are in a constant battle to survive in a host as well as in the environment, and they have devised elaborate strategies to facilitate this.  One approach is to decorate surface components by acylation. For example, acetylation of the O-antigen of the LPS can facilitate immune evasion and phage resistance.  We identified that the acyl_transf_3 (AT3) family of membrane proteins acylate key surface structures in many important pathogens, and have elucidated novel aspects of the structure function of the Salmonella spp LPS acetylation system. This PhD project applies our new insights of AT3 proteins, to gain more understanding of the role of an AT3 protein, IcaC, in biofilm formation by PNAG succinylation in Staphylococcus spp. Biofilm formation is a key feature for Staphylococcus infection and antimicrobial resistance. Gaining further insight into protein structure-function relationships and the role of AT3 proteins may lead to developing novel approaches to interfere with bacteria virulence. Approaches may include bioinformatics, bacterial genetics, molecular biology, in vitro and in situ functional assays, and imaging. You will benefit from the the complementary expertise and ongoing successful collaboration between the supervisors. Relevant references (from the supervisors): Atkin ME et al FEBS Lett. 2014 588:1869-72; Pearson CR et al, 2020 mBio 11:e01364-20; Pearson CR et al, 2022 Microbiology 168:001146; Newman K et al. eLife, in press.   

For informal inquiries, please contact Marjan Van der Woude, [Email Address Removed]

Location and Research Culture 

The project will take place within the Experimental Medicine and Biomedicine group at Hull York Medical School at the University of York.  

Hull York Medical School is a unique partnership bringing together the expertise of both the Universities of Hull and York and offering a thriving environment in which to conduct world-leading research. Strong partnerships with NHS Trusts and community health organisations offer a wide clinical base that fosters translation of biomedical research to improve health. Our research is a key component of the York Biomedical Research Institute

You will be part of a vibrant post-graduate community within the medical school but also interacting with students from other PhD Programmes at the University of York. You will have access to the University of York Biosciences Technology Facility, allowing the use of cutting-edge equipment to support the research as needed for the project (e.g. imaging, bioinformatics etc.) You will be supported by a thesis advisory panel, and will follow a training programme on transferable and research skills.

Start Date 

1st October 2023 

Qualification Required 

In order to qualify for this scholarship you will require an undergraduate degree with at least a 2.1, or equivalent, in a relevant subject. English Language IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component. 

How to Apply 

All applications MUST BE submitted to Hull York Medical School via the online application method choosing option PhD in Medical Sciences 2023 October, full time or part time: 

The deadline for applications is the 15th February 2023 

 In order for the Panel to get a sense of your academic background, commitment and interest, you are required to complete the application form in full and provide a research proposal/outline of academic interest. Research proposals and personal statements may be used in selecting applicants for interview. If you have any queries on how to apply please email [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This 4-year full-time studentship will be funded by the Hull York Medical School. The funding will include:
Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£17,668 for 2022/23 academic year)
UK tuition fees.
Research support and training charges, covering laboratory consumables and training costs.
International and EU students will need to have sufficient funds to cover the difference in fee costs (see laboratory-based degrees ) and the costs of their student visa, NHS health surcharge, travel insurance and transport to the UK as these will not be covered by the studentship.
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