PhD Studentship: A Synthetic Biology Bordetella Vaccine (BBSRC Funded)

University of Exeter - College of Life and Environmental Sciences

The South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio DTP) is a BBSRC-funded PhD training programme in the biosciences, delivered by a consortium comprising the Universities of Bristol (lead), Bath, Cardiff, Exeter, and Rothamsted Research. Together, these institutions present a distinctive cadre of bioscience research staff and students with established international, national and regional networks and widely recognised research excellence. The partnership has a strong track record in advancing knowledge through high quality research and teaching in partnership with industry and government.

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio DTP).  Up to 4 fully-funded studentships are being offered to start in September 2018 at the University of Exeter.

Academic Supervisors:

Main supervisor: Dr Nicholas Harmer
Co-supervisor: Dr Andrew Preston
Co-supervisor: Prof Clive Butler
Collaborator: Prof Brendan Wren
Collaborator: Dr Jon Cucui

Project description:

In this project, you will use synthetic biology methods to produce a Bordetella O-antigen recombinantly. Bordetella species infect the respiratory tracts of many mammals, including pigs, dogs and humans. Resistance is developing to some current vaccines, and so there is a growing need to develop alternatives. You will exploit the methods developed by ourselves and our collaborators to obtain the O-antigen. You will then validate its production, and ideally have the opportunity to further develop this towards making a vaccine candidate. The main methods that you will use for the project will be protein expression in E. coli, protein purification, enzyme assays, molecular biology/synthetic biology, and methods for polysaccharide characterisation. All of these methods are well established in the groups of the supervisory team and their collaborators.

There will be opportunities to also learn associated methods that the laboratories specialise in as the project develops. This project will be based in the recently established Living Systems Institute in Exeter, which houses a diverse group of leading interdisciplinary researchers. You will join a vibrant group of young researchers with interests across a range of diseases.

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South West England