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PHD Studentship: Investigating the transmission of drug resistant enteric bacteria in a community setting

School of Biosciences & Medicine

Location:  Guildford
Post Type:  Full Time
Advert Placed:  Wednesday 12 April 2017
Closing Date:  Wednesday 31 May 2017
Reference:  031317


Funding: Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Antimicrobial resistance in pathogens is a major global issue impacting human and animal health. The many effects of the acquisition and dissemination of antimicrobial resistant pathogens are often exacerbated in resource-challenged settings where multiple confounding factors make monitoring and reporting difficult. Recently, the World Health Organisation reported antimicrobial resistance in different pathogens of international concern (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2017/bacteria-antibiotics-needed/en/); several of these are enteric bacteria.

Your project will focus on determining the prevalence, reservoirs and factors underpinning the transmission of selected multi-drug resistant enteric bacteria in humans, animals and the environment. The enteric bacteria under consideration will include E. coli, Klebsiella spp and non-Typhoidal Salmonella. The project will combine computational sequencing-based analyses with ‘wet bench’ mechanistic studies to answer key questions about how and why resistant Gram-negative enteric bacteria emerge and spread within a selected study site. Detailed molecular characterisation of resistant organisms will be carried out using phenotypic assays and the impact of common resistant determinants on host biology explored using a range of in vitro and ex vivo approaches. In addition, genes that are co-selected or appear to confer host specific benefits will be further characterised. This project will equip you with key microbiology, molecular biology and bioinformatics (bacterial genome analyses) skills. You will be part of a group working on antimicrobial resistance and given the location of the overseas study site, you will have the opportunity to make an impact on a project that has an international and interdisciplinary outlook.

The Okoro lab is a new addition to the Department of Microbial Sciences within the School of Biosciences & Medicine. The School is part of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. The lab is focused on using best-fit methods to identify and then study identified variation, such as antimicrobial resistance, in enteric bacterial populations. Within this dynamic and intellectually diverse department and faculty, you will interact with renowned researchers and analysts in bacteriology, systems biology, virology and bioinformatics.

The University of Surrey is a leading university located within the town of Guildford, Surrey in the South East of England, UK. The University was recently awarded the University of the Year and University of the Year for Student Experience in 2016 by the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide (http://www.surrey.ac.uk/content/university-of-the-year). Guildford is a vibrant city with easy rail and road access to London and the scenic Surrey countryside.


Applicants must have, or be about to obtain, a first or upper second class honours degree in microbiology, biomedical sciences, natural sciences or related disciplines.

Self-motivation, deep interest in research, fluency in English language and good communication skills are essential.

An MSc in biomedical sciences with added bioinformatics/computational biology experience or desire to undertake training in computational biology or bioinformatics is preferred. Previous research experience is preferred but not mandatory.

Informal enquiries should be directed to c.okoro@surrey.ac.uk.

Initial applications must include the following and should be emailed directly to c.okoro@surrey.ac.uk.


1.            A CV/resume which includes modules taken with grades (or expected grades)

2.            A cover letter/supporting statement highlighting your primary motivation for applying for a PhD studentship and to this project in particular, what you would like to get out of your PhD research, relevant analytical and laboratory skills and the research projects you have undertaken or have been involved in.

3.            Contact details for two academic referees (please include any recent research mentor or supervisor).

Shortlisted candidates will be contacted directly and informed of the next stages of the application process. The start date is October 2017 or January 2018.


Funding Notes


This PhD studentship includes a £14,296 p.a. stipend (all university fees are covered).

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