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BBSRC MRes/PhD Studentship - How to kill non-growing bacterial pathogens

This job is no longer available

Newcastle University
16 April 2012
North East England > Tyne & Wear
Course fee
not specified

Further information

BBSRC MRes/PhD Studentship - How to kill non-growing bacterial pathogens

  • Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP)
  • Reference Code: CB075


Name of the supervisors
Dr l Hamoe , Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences
Prof K Gerdes , Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences

This studentship is sponsored by BBSRC as part of the  Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP)

Duration of the award
4 years (MRes Medical and Molecular Biosciences followed by a three year PhD)

Project description
Most antibiotics block cell wall, DNA, RNA or protein synthesis. When bacteria do not grow, these processes are inactive and therefore non-growing dormant bacterial cells are resistant to many antibacterial compounds. Non-growing pathogenic bacteria, also referred to as 'persisters', are causing chronic infections, food spoilage and food poisoning. This project aims at:

  • Investigating the mechanism by which certain antibiotics kill non-growing cells.
  • Developing Bacillus subtilis as a model system to study non-growing Gram-positive (persister) bacteria.
  • Examining the role of toxin-antitoxins in B. subtilis persister cell induction.

There is currently no good model system to study the general physiology of non-growing Gram-positive bacteria. By far the best investigated Gram-positive bacterium is B. subtilis. In a previous study we have shown that B. subtilis cells can stay dormant for a long time before eventually resuming growth (Hamoen, PNAS 2008). We will investigate how B. subtilis survives without growing by following changes in transcriptome and proteome profiles and testing different mutants. This information will transform B. subtilis into a useful model system for the study of non-growing Gram-positive persisters.

In Gram-negative bacteria the main mechanism to block growth prematurely and induce the persister state is the activity of toxin-antitoxin systems. We have investigated this in detail in E. coli (Gerdes, e.g. PNAS 2011), but relatively little is known in Gram-positive bacteria. B. subtilis has several toxin-antitoxin systems and with our B. subtilis model system we can now investigate how these toxin-antitoxin systems contribute to persister induction and long-term survival in Gram-positive bacteria.

Value of the Award and Eligibility
Depending on how you meet the BBSRC's eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award. A full award covers tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and an annual stipend of £13,590 (2011/2012).    A partial award covers fees at the UK/EU rate only.

Person Specification
Candidates should have or expect to achieve a First Class or 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant science subject.

How to Apply
You must complete the University's postgraduate application form . Select "Master of Research/Doctor of Philosophy (Medical Sciences) - Cell and Molecular Biosciences" as the programme of study. Only mandatory fields need to be completed (no personal statement required) but you must attach a copy of your CV and a covering letter, quoting the title of the studentship and reference number CB075.

Closing date for applications 
Prompt application is advised as this post is only available until a suitable candidate is appointed

Further Information
Please Contact Dr L Hamoen:
e-mail -
telephone -  +44 (0)191 208 3240

Newcastle University

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