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PhD Studentship: Engineering Clostridioides difficile Bacteriophages for Therapeutic Application.

Location:Milton Keynes, ENGLAND

Unit :  Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Salary :  stipend of £18,622 per year
Location :  Milton Keynes
Please quote reference :  PHD/LHCS/4
Closing Date :  31 January, 2024 – 17:00

Project summary

This PhD opportunity focuses on advancing treatments for challenging infections by leveraging cutting-edge genetic techniques to enhance the therapeutic potential of bacteriophages (phages) in addressing Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI).

CDI stands as the primary cause of hospital-associated diarrhea in the developed world, resistant to conventional antibiotic approaches. Phage therapy emerges as a promising alternative, but existing phages necessitate genetic modifications to optimize their therapeutic capabilities.

The research involves isolating phages with host range activity against prevalent C. difficile strains in the UK and understanding their receptor binding determinants. Concurrently, a characterized phage will be endowed with antibacterial effectors to enhance killing activity, with testing conducted in invertebrate and murine infection models. Novel phage isolations will guide the modification of host range activity to target prevalent UK strains.

This project provides comprehensive training in synthetic biology, medical microbiology, and anaerobic microbiology.

Further information

This three-year research studentship is funded by the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at The Open University and provides a stipend of £18,622 per year (2023/24 rate, indexed annually) and all academic fees are covered.

The project is supervised by Dr Terry Bilverstone. The student would be required to live in the UK and within commuting distance of The Open University in Milton Keynes.

Applicants will ideally have a First Class or Upper Second undergraduate degree or Masters degree in Microbiology, Biotechnology, Biomedical Science or similar subjects. Alternatively, a Bioinformatics graduate with wet-lab experience could be suitable.

This project will be well-suited to candidates with:An interest in synthetic biology or medical microbiology subjects.Experience in microbiology or molecular biology laboratory techniques.Experience of presenting research data including written reports and oral presentations.Willingness to travel to the USA for a short research visit (~1 month) in the final year, subject to funding.

Informal enquiries relating to the project should be directed to Dr Terry Bilverstone email: terry.bilverstone@open.ac.uk .

How to Apply

Please send an email with your CV, a completed application form  and a personal statement (max. 2 pages outlining your suitability for the studentship, what you hope to achieve from the PhD and your research experience to date) to STEM-LHCS-PHD@open.ac.uk

You can find more information in the following link:  http://www.open.ac.uk/science/life-health-chemical-sciences/phd-studentships-vacancies

Prove your English language abilities with a secure English language test (SELT) –

Where a student neither comes from one of the countries listed in Table 1 or has a degree from one of the countries listed in Table 2 they will have to pass one of the Home Office approved English language tests, at an approved test centre. See further information here . We recommend an IELTS SELT Consortium test.

Closing date:  31/01/2024

Interview date: Online Interviews will be arranged promptly after the closing date.

Final Funding Decision: March 2024. This is part of a pooled School process, so the selected applicant will be put forward to a reviewing panel in March for final decisions. Applicants will be notified if they are selected and will be informed of the panel decision afterwards.

LHCS holds Athena Swan Bronze Status and promote diversity in employment and welcome applications from all sections of the community.


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Last modified: February 10, 2024
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