PhD Studentship in Bacterial Cell Biology - Novel Mode of Action Shared by Cell Wall-Targeting Antibiotics

Newcastle University

Value of award

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £14,553.

Number of awards


Start date and duration

September 2018 for 3 years.

Application closing date

13 May 2018.


Cell wall synthesis machinery is the target for some of our clinically most successful antibiotics such as penicillins and cephalosporins, and also for the last resort antibiotics Vancomycin and Daptomycin used to treat life-threatening multidrug resistant infections. The classical model how cell wall antibiotics kill bacteria is by causing weakening of the cell wall envelope that ultimately leads to cell disintegration (lysis) through osmotic rupture. Recently, we made a surprising discovery that cell wall-targeting antibiotics share a so far unrecognised antibacterial mode of action that contributes to the rapid bacterial killing. While the specific molecular targets of cell wall antibiotics are well understood, these findings directly question the current understanding of how cell wall antibiotics in fact kill bacteria.

In this joint project between the Strahl and Errington-groups (Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology), the cellular mode of action of cell wall-targeting antibiotics will be analysed using the Gram-positive model organism Bacillus subtilis, and model pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus. The research programme makes heavy use of advanced microscopy techniques such as microfluidic devises, super resolution microscopy, and high speed imaging. The student will, thus, enjoy an exceptionally broad training in state-of-the-art methods in molecular and cell biology, and in antibiotic research.


Barbour Foundation

Name of supervisor(s)

Dr H Strahl and Professor J Errington.

Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree in biology, biomedicine, microbiology or a related area. A further qualification such as an MSc or MRes is advantageous.

This award is available to UK and EU applicants only. To study this course you need to meet the following English language requirements: IELTS 6.5 overall (with a minimum of 5.5 in all other sub-skills).

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create a new account’.

Only mandatory fields need to be completed. However, you will need to include the following information: 

  • insert the programme code 8300F in the programme of study section
  • select ‘PhD in the Faculty of Medical Sciences – Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences' as the programme of study
  • insert the studentship code CB145 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote the studentship reference code CB145 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications
  • in addition, please email the covering letter and CV directly to Henrik Strahl. 


For further details, please contact:

Henrik Strahl
Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology
Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 3240

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Northern England