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Autoantibody sensing for early diagnosis and subsequent monitoring of rheumatic diseases

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Stefan Bagby
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Supervisory team -
Lead supervisor: Dr Stefan Bagby (Department of Biology & Biochemistry, University of Bath)
Co supervisors: Dr Pedro Estrela (Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, University of Bath), Prof Neil McHugh (Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology, University of Bath) and Prof Paul Winyard (Exeter University Medical School)

This PhD project will provide training across several disciplines including biochemistry, biosensors, inflammation and immunology plus clinical aspects of autoimmune diseases.


Whereas antibodies target proteins or other molecules from a pathogenic invader such as a bacterium or virus, autoantibodies target an individual’s own proteins and are sometimes markers of rheumatic diseases. Many autoantibodies are directed against antigens that have been covalently altered by one of a wide range of post-translational modifications; autoantibodies to citrullinated proteins, for example, are diagnostic of rheumatoid arthritis. We propose to develop an array-based electrochemical sensor for detection of multiple autoantibodies in blood, urine and other samples. The sensor will comprise an array of autoantigens, including modified autoantigens, on a surface such as gold or graphene. Such a sensor will allow much faster and earlier diagnosis of multiple rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus, permit monitoring of disease progress and treatment effectiveness, guide more personalised therapeutic regimens, and help determine extent of organ and tissue damage. About 1% of the adult UK population is affected by just one rheumatic disease (rheumatoid arthritis) and worldwide annual sales of one current therapeutic (anti-TNF monoclonal antibody) for rheumatoid arthritis are $18 billion. This studentship therefore provides an opportunity to improve the diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases that severely reduce quality of life for many people.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Stefan Bagby, [Email Address Removed].

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form:
https://www.bath.ac.uk/study/pg/applications.pl#bio-sci

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:
http://www.bath.ac.uk/guides/how-to-apply-for-doctoral-study/

Anticipated start date: 1 October 2018

We reserve the right to close applications earlier than the advertised deadline if a suitable candidate is identified; therefore, early application is strongly recommended.

Funding Notes

UK and EU students applying for this project may be considered for a studentship funded by the University of Bath and the Bath Institute for Rheumatic Disease. The studentship will cover Home/EU tuition fees and a tax-free maintenance allowance (£14,777 in 2018-19) for a period of 3 years. There will also be funds to support research expenses, training and conference attendance.

Note: only UK and EU applicants are eligible for this studentship; unfortunately, applicants who are classed as Overseas for fee paying purposes are NOT eligible for funding.

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.50

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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