PhD Studentship School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences and Diamond Light Source Ltd

Reference Number: RS/12/21

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences in collaboration with Diamond Light Source Ltd. The studentship is tenable for up to 4 years for a PhD (via MPhil route) [subject to satisfactory progress]. The studentship will cover the cost of tuition fees for UK/EU residents for 4 years plus a maintenance grant of £13,590 for at least 3 years. The proposed start date for the studentship is 1 October 2013.

International applicants may apply but will be required to pay the difference between the UK/EU and International Fee Rate.

Project Title:  Analysis of ligand and inhibitor interactions with membrane proteins of Gram-positive pathogenic bacteria.

Project Description
Gram-positive bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and enterococci are amongst the most significant agents of healthcare-acquired infections in the UK. They are of particular concern in the clinic because they exhibit a readily acquired resistance to a wide range of antibiotics. Understanding how virulence factors such as adherence mechanisms are regulated in these bacteria is important for finding new alternative antibiotic therapies and for drug discovery.

Regulation of virulence factor production is often initiated through membrane sensory proteins (histidine protein kinases of two-component signal transduction systems). This project will build on our ability to purify these membrane proteins in intact active forms for studies of ligand and inhibitor interactions using synchrotron radiation circular dichroism spectroscopy (SRCD) and activity assays. The contribution of the membrane environment will also be investigated.   

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The outcomes of this project will be the identification of environmental signalling ligands and novel inhibitors that target membrane histidine kinases specifically and bacterial membranes in general. The project will result in further development of SRCD-based methods but not exclusively for investigating ligand-membrane protein interactions.

The successful applicant will spend approximately 50 % of their time at the Diamond Light Source Ltd (beamline B23) and 50 % in the School of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Lancashire. There are excellent facilities in which to undertake the project, both at Diamond’s synchrotron radiation CD facility at Harwell and in the new research facilities at UCLan which include CD and FTIR spectroscopy and LC-MS, analytical chemistry facilities incorporating X-ray diffraction and NMR spectroscopy, as well as microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry and tissue culture suites which will be housed in newly refurbished laboratories in the Darwin Research Facility in Summer 2013.

Supervisors: Dr Mary Phillips-Jones (University of Central Lancashire) and Dr Rohanah Hussain (Diamond Light Source Ltd.).

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in a relevant subject.

We require a graduate in one of the life and/or physical sciences with a 2(i) or above grade and an interest in microbial physiology and/or the application of biophysical techniques to biology. The ideal candidate will have an interest in learning membrane protein purification techniques, and spectroscopic techniques especially circular dichroism spectroscopy. Hands-on familiarity with either of those techniques is an advantage but not essential.

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Informal project related enquiries may be directed to Dr Mary Phillips-Jones (01772 895831 or or Dr Rohanah Hussain (01235 778524 or

Requests for an application pack (quoting the reference number RS1221) should be directed to the Graduate Research School Office, via the ‘Apply’ button below.

Tel: 01772 895082 or email

Closing Date:26th July 2013

Proposed Interview Date: 23rd August 2013 (to be confirmed)

Current UCLAN Research Students will not be eligible to apply for the Research Studentship

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