PhD Studentship: Biochemistry

University of Sussex

Investigating RNA polymerase regulation in the antibiotic-producing Streptomyces bacteria

A Ph.D. studentship (42 months) is available from September 2017 under the supervision of Dr Mark Paget, Department of Biochemistry, School of Life Sciences

The discovery of new antimicrobials is key to meeting the global antimicrobial resistance (AMR) challenge and new genome mining and synthetic biology approaches are leading to a resurgence in the hunt for natural products as leads. Most antibiotics derive from actinobacteria – a diverse group of Gram-positive bacteria that include the Streptomyces genus. Surprisingly, genome sequencing has revealed that the genomes of these bacteria are full of gene clusters that have the potential to produce antibiotics but are not expressed in the laboratory, which prevents the screening of potentially life-saving drugs. This PhD project aims to understand how the transcription machinery – RNA polymerase – is controlled and to develop novel ways of stimulating the expression of these silent pathways. It stems from our research that revealed that RNA polymerase from actinobacteria has unusual general transcription factors not found in other bacteria (Tabib-Salazar et al Nucl Acids Res, 2013; Hubin et al PNAS, 2015) and that certain mutations can stimulate antibiotic production.

Research questions will include: how is the cellular level of RNA polymerase controlled and what are the roles of general transcription factors in remodelling the transcriptome towards antibiotic production? The successful applicant will receive training in microbiology, biochemistry and molecular biology, apply modern genomic techniques such as RNA-seq, and develop their research and transferable skills supported by the Sussex Postgraduate Skills Programme.

Please submit a formal application using our online application system at, including a CV, degree certificate/transcript, statement of interest and names of two academic referees.

On the application system use Programme of Study – PhD Biochemistry.

Please make sure you include the project title and supervisor’s name with your statement of interest on the application form.

For project specific queries, please contact Dr Mark Paget: ( For application queries, please contact Alice Caryer:

This School funded position, which covers fees and a stipend at standard RCUK rates, is open to Home / EU applicants who should hold or expect to obtain a first, or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in relevant subject. Candidates for whom English is not their first language will require an IELTS score of 6.5 overall, with not less than 6.0 in any section.

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