Global Strategic Alliance PhD Scholarship - The Florey Institute

University of Sheffield - Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

1 x Global Strategic Alliance PhD studentship for The Florey Institute (a 2022 Futures project)

The Florey Institute is part of a Vice Chancellor-led strategic initiative, 2022 Futures, which provides a platform for ambitious research growth in areas that the University of Sheffield is recognised for internationally (e.g. host-pathogen interactions and antimicrobial resistance). This scholarship, as part of the Global Strategic Alliance programme, will position the student in a thriving research environment that will provide international opportunities for training and career development. The studentship will be held in the newly established laboratory of Dr Andrew Fenton in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.

Project title: Mechanisms controlling cell wall biosynthesis in Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Project description: Pneumonia and meningitis are leading causes of human morbidity and death in the world. One of the most common organisms responsible for these diseases is the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. Like many bacteria, S. pneumoniae cells are surrounded by a cell wall which provides their characteristic shape and protects the cells from lysis. The cell wall is synthesised by large multi-enzyme complexes whose activity is tightly controlled and coupled to cell growth. Antibiotics used to treat S. pneumoniae infections target these enzymes compromising the structure of the wall leading to cell death. Worldwide antimicrobial resistance is a huge challenge to human health and new strategies which target the cell wall are urgently needed. Further insight into how the cell wall is synthesised will lead to future novel targets for treatment strategies.

Remarkably little is known about how the cell wall is synthesised given its importance as a drug target. However, recent studies have identified key enzyme activities required to build the cell wall and previous work from the lab has characterised a new regulator of the cell wall building enzymes in S. pneumoniae.

The project will use deep sequencing approaches (Tn-seq/Mut-seq) to reveal relationships between genes involved in cell wall biosynthesis. Once identified, further genetic screens, biochemical assays and epifluorescence microscopy will be used to understand the fundamental mechanisms by which these cells grow and divide.

Please contact Dr Andrew Fenton ( for more information.

Award Details

  • Full tuition fees (UK, EU or Overseas).
  • An annual, tax-free maintenance stipend at the standard RCUK rate (2016/17 is £14,296).
  • A Research Training Support Grant to cover international travel, secondments and exchanges.

These scholarships fund up to 3.5 years full-time study, subject to satisfactory progress.


  • You should have, or expect to achieve, a first or upper second class UK honours degree or equivalent. This should be in a relevant area (e.g. Biology/Microbiology/Genetics/Biochemistry).
  • Anticipated start date August – October 2017 (exact start date to be agreed)
  • Awards are open to UK, EU and international applicants.

How to apply

Scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis - applications are assessed on the basis of academic success and qualifications, experience, research background and a clear and well-articulated reason for being considered. The application process is as follows:

  1. A) Complete the application form (
  2. B) Email the following documents listed below as a single pdf file to In the subject box, please indicate ‘YOUR SURNAME – Florey 2016 - AF’
  3. C.V.
  4. Degree transcripts
  5. Supporting statement
  6. Reference letters from two referees (these may be sent directly from your referees)
  7. English Language certification (if applicable)

For more information about the Florey Institute, see

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