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Programmable precision guided bacteriophage for selective killing of antimicrobial gut pathogens

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Baojun Wang
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Interested individuals must follow Steps 1, 2 and 3 at this link on how to apply

Infectious diarrhea is a major cause of infant mortality and adult morbidity in developing countries with estimated 1 to 2 million deaths per year [1]. The global burden of food-borne diseases is still increasing despite major public health efforts due to poor sanitation and emergence of new strains of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) enteropathogens. While antibiotics and specific naturally isolated bacteriophages may be applied for the cure, they generally lack the specificity and programmability to predictably control the population of many other commensal species in the gut microbiome. In addition, due to increasing AMR to existing antibiotics and natural phages current therapies are at danger to become quickly ineffective and outdated. Here we will engineer bacteriophages to selectively target gut pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella that cause widespread environmental enteropathy in infants in developing countries. We will program the CRISPR-Cas9 (clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats–CRISPR-associated proteins) nucleases to cut the chromosomes of the target pathogens, and test their ability to block infection in a mouse gut colonization model while leaving the non-pathogenic and often beneficial bacteria largely intact.

The project will provide the student a comprehensive training of advanced molecular genetic tools, innovative synthetic biology technologies, pathological basis of infectious diseases and computational bioinformatics skills. The research will gives the student sufficient training and experience to work in a multi-disciplinary research environment and team, equipped with the ability to initiate and perform innovative frontier research in synthetic biology with application in biomedicine and to prepare well for his/her future research career. The student may also benefit from the opportunity to work collaboratively with some of our healthcare and industrial partners in biomedicine.

Further information about the lab can be found at http://wang.bio.ed.ac.uk/ and informal enquiries may be made to [Email Address Removed].

Funding Notes

Please follow the instructions on how to apply http://www.ed.ac.uk/biology/prospective-students/postgraduate/pgr/how-to-apply

If you would like us to consider you for one of our scholarships you must apply by 12 noon on Monday 5th December 2016 at the latest.


Newell et al., Food-borne diseases - the challenges of 20 years ago still persist while new ones continue to emerge, Int J Food Microbiol, 2010, 139, S3-15

Bikard et al., Exploiting CRISPR-Cas nucleases to produce sequence-specific antimicrobials, Nature Biotechnology, 2014, 32:1146-1150

Wang et al., “Engineering modular and orthogonal genetic logic gates for robust digital-like synthetic biology”, Nature Communications, 2011,2:508 (Reported by Financial Times, EPSRC, European Commission, Electronics Weekly, Science Daily and Imperial College among others)

How good is research at University of Edinburgh in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 109.70

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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