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Wellcome Trust funded research on ‘Marginalisation and the microbe: how to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) without increasing health inequalities’


Project Description

We are appointing a doctoral researcher to work with Dr Catherine Will on Wellcome Trust funded research on ‘Marginalisation and the microbe: how to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) without increasing health inequalities’ from 1st October 2019.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is increasingly appearing in common bacterial infections. Responses include more careful use of antibiotics, but attempts to preserve their effectiveness could exacerbate existing health inequalities. This research will compare past, present and evolving responses to infections in sexual and reproductive health, including those more likely to affect groups made marginal due to age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race, poverty and class. Careful comparisons of mobilisation by policy makers, scientists, clinical professionals – and patients where relevant – will give a critical edge to analysis of political and social factors shaping this field, and different ways of making inequality visible and addressing stigma.

This project will be funded for three years, and will engage with different responses to bacterial infections of the urinary tract (UTI), which predominantly affect women, particularly in pregnancy, in the menopause and in old age. Large online communities exist where people connect around experiences of infections, including those where no clear bacterial cause can be identified (sometimes described as interstitial cystitis).

We propose a project exploring how persistent or recurrent UTIs is shared online in English language forums. The project should reflect on the meaning and importance of such online discussions for women, and their use as data for understanding of different domestic and clinical practices, including antibiotic stewardship policies and practices. The exact study design will be shaped by the researcher’s interests and discussion of ethical issues arising, but possible methods include:
- Online ethnography in communities convened around this topic
- Online, Skype or in-person interviews of active participants, leaders, and people with more marginalised voices/experiences
- Qualitative/quantitative analysis of contributions to online discussions

You will be able to make a substantial contribution to understanding of this important area, which is associated with a significant but often hidden burden of illness, and to discussion of AMR in policy and medical education.

You should have Masters level training in social science methodology, ideally in Sociology, Gender Studies, Science and Technology Studies or Anthropology, or equivalent relevant experience in research at an advanced level.

We expect opportunities to travel to the United States for interviews, workshops and other events during the project, which also involves researchers at San Francisco State University, University of California Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Students will need to apply for a PhD in Sociology or Gender Studies, based in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology. Please find further information regarding the school and its constituent departments at http://www.sussex.ac.uk/lps.

Applications come through the main University of Sussex system: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/study/pg/applying. When completing your application please put down Dr Catherine Will as the supervisor. You do not need to prepare a research proposal at this stage.

The University of Sussex values the diversity of its staff and students and we would very much welcome applicants from all backgrounds, especially black and minority ethnic candidates.

Funding Notes

Full funding is available to UK/EU applicants only, covering fees and living costs and there is a starting stipend of £19,919 pa.

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