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PhD Studentship: New Polymers and Materials from the ‘Hair’ of Bacteria

Newcastle University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Edinburgh
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £18,622
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 16th February 2024
Closes: 15th March 2024
Reference: SNES288

Award summary

Full Home fees and annual living allowance of £18,622 (subject to minor change)

Overview

Fimbriae are long filamentous polymeric protein ‘hair’-like structures located upon the surface of bacteria. Evolutionary pressures have ensured that fimbriae possess unique structural and mechanical properties which are advantageous to bacteria. These properties are also difficult to engineer with well-known synthetic and natural fibres, and this has raised an intriguing question: can we exploit the unique properties of bacterial fimbriae in useful ways? At Newcastle we have been studying Capsular antigen fragment 1 (Caf1), a fimbriae expressed naturally by the plague bacterium Yersina pestis (for a recent review of our work see Biomater. Sci., 2023, 11, 7229–7246).  Caf1 is very amenable to structural mutagenesis which allows the incorporation of useful bioactive functions and the modulation of the fibre’s mechanical properties. Its high-yielding recombinant synthesis also ensures plentiful quantities of polymer are available to drive development. These advantageous features make Caf1 an archetype for the development of new polymers and materials based upon bacterial fimbriae. This studentship is highly flexible which will allow the student wide scope to develop a project based on Caf1 which aligns with their interests and skills/background. The project will be developed within a theme such as ‘smart’ hydrogels, 3D bioprinting, advanced materials for cell culture, the construction of novel polymers or biophysical studies of protein self-assembly. The student will benefit from excellent training and mentoring whilst working in exceptionally well-equipped laboratories. The project will be performed in the group of Dr David Fulton (Chemistry) at Newcastle University working closely with Prof Jeremy Lakey (Biosciences Institute) and Dr Ana Marina Ferreira-Durarte (School of Engineering). Applications welcome from students with background in relevant subjects such as chemistry, biochemistry, biomedical science/engineering, materials/polymer science. Start date would be September 2024, but applicants who could start in January or April 2025 are also welcome.  

Number of awards: 1

Start date: September 2024

Award duration: 3 Years

Sponsor: This project is funded by the generous bequest of Dr W Oliver Ord.

Supervisors: Dr David A Fulton

Eligibility criteria:

A Master’s level degree in chemistry, bioscience, biomedical science/engineering or bioengineering (1st Class or 2:1 minimum or equivalent) is required.

The award is available to UK and EU applicants with pre-settled/settled status only.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s Apply to Newcastle Portal

Once registered select ‘Create a Postgraduate Application’.

Use ‘Course Search’ to identify your programme of study:

  • Search for the ‘Course Title’ using the programme code: 8100F
  • Research Area: Chemistry
  • Select PhD Chemistry (full time)’ as the programme of study

You will then need to provide the following information in the ‘Further Details’ section:

  • A ‘Personal Statement’ (this is a mandatory field) - upload a document or write a statement directly in to the application form 
  • The studentship code SNES288 in the ‘Studentship/Partnership Reference’ field 
  • When prompted for how you are providing your research proposal - select ‘Write Proposal’. You should then type in the title of the research project from this advert. You do not need to upload a research proposal.

Contact details

For informal enquiries and further details potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact david.fulton@ncl.ac.uk

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