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Disentangling bacteria and parasite virulence mechanisms: Targeting protein post translational modifications to manipulate cell autonomous immunity

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  • Full or part time
    Prof J Bengoechea
    Dr M Robinson
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description


Post-translational modification of proteins is a widespread mechanism used by both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells to modify the activity of key factors that plays fundamental roles in cellular physiology. These modifications allow a diversification of the activities of proteins encoded by all organisms and add a layer of complexity between the genome and the proteome.
By combining cellular and molecular microbiology, and innate immunity in this PhD project we will embark on harnessing basic knowledge about how Klebsiella pneumoniae and Fasciola hepatica take control over two host PTMs: ubiquitination and ISGylation. K. pneumoniae has been recently singled out as an "urgent threat to human health" by the UK Government, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization due to extremely drug resistant strains. F. hepatica (also known as the liver fluke) infects more than 300 million cattle and 250 million sheep worldwide resulting in losses of over $3 billion to global agriculture through lost productivity. However, there is scant evidence on the pathogenesis of both Klebsiella and Fasciola at the molecular and cellular levels. Therefore, it is both urgent and necessary to better understand its pathophysiology to be able to design new strategies to treat these infections.
This innovative project rises to the challenge of combating infections by improving our understanding of how pathogens exploit the attacks of an activated immune system to enhance their survival.


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

The English Language Unit (ELU) offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained from the ELU http://www.qub.ac.uk/tefl/

Funding Notes


DEL Research Studentships

Eligibility for both fees and maintenance (£14,057 for 2015/16, 2016/17 TBC) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK resident or those EU residents who have lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship.

Non UK residents who hold EU residency may also apply but if successful may receive fees only.

For further details re eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) please click on the following link: http://www.delni.gov.uk/index/further-and-higher-education/higher-education/studentfinance/he-student-info-postgrad-finance.htm


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Infection and Immunity, website for further details about the Centre:


When applying, please choose 'MEDICINE' as your subject area/School.

Related Subjects

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