PhD Studentship in Evolutionary Microbiology of a Human Pathogen

University of Cambridge - Department of Biochemistry

A fully-funded PhD studentship from the National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction (NC3R) is available for uptake in October 2017 in the laboratories of Dr Martin Welch (Department of Biochemistry, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge) and Prof Andres Floto (Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Papworth Hospital, Cambridge). Most of the hands-on work will be done in the MW laboratory.

The project is entitled "In vitro reconstitution of the polymicrobial community associated with cystic fibrosis (CF) airway infections". The airway infections associated with many (if not most) chronic respiratory diseases are predominantly polymicrobial, yet there are currently no models mimicking polymicrobial respiratory infection in vitro and the developing animal models are still very rudimentary. We therefore have an unparalleled window of opportunity in which to develop a robust, experimentally-tuneable in vitro model of polymicrobial respiratory infection. This will be the main aim of the project. The ability to work with stable polymicrobial communities will allow us to address some important ecological and evolutionary questions. For example, what happens to the community structure and dynamics when it is perturbed following antibiotic addition? What happens when a new species is introduced? Does co-culturing of different species affect their phenotypes, cell-cell communication or virulence profiles? These are fascinating fundamental questions that can be directly addressed using an in vitro setup. This PhD project would be suitable for a candidate with a background in Biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology or Genetics and a desire to apply the very latest modern molecular biological techniques to address a variety of unanswered ecological and evolutionary questions. 

The successful applicant will join our Departmental PhD programme and must complete their studies within 4 years. Full funding (covering maintenance, fees and laboratory consumables) is available for UK citizens or EEA students who meet UK residency requirements. NC3Rs-specific training will be supplied, and is an integral part of the training programme. 

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 3 years in the first instance.

In the first instance, interested candidates should contact Dr Martin Welch ( with a CV, list of academic referees and a cover letter. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview in Cambridge.

Please quote reference PH10614 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

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