PhD position in Cellular Microbiology/Infection: Belfast

Fully-funded PhD studentship for international students! Reveal new mechanisms in the battle of bacterial pathogens with their hosts. Highly interdisciplinary, great for anyone interested in microbiology, cell biology, infection

The rise of antibiotic resistance, compounded with growing populations of immunocompromised people, make bacterial pathogens one of the most important threats to human health. Host-directed therapies to harness the exceptional power of the immune system have low propensity for resistance development and are a promising alternative to antibiotics.

Intracellular bacterial pathogens take advantage of direct access to cellular nutrient pools and use host cells as hide-out from patrolling immune cells. This does not only require the blockade of intracellular defence mechanisms, but also inhibition of host cell stress responses to maintain a “pseudo”-homeostasis, which prevents cell death before the bacteria can exploit all resources.

We identified a new family of Legionella pneumophila effectors, which share similarity to mammalian enzymes that modulate ubiquitin-like modifiers (UBLs) and seem to target proteins involved in maintaining cellular homeostasis; however, roles of these targets in host-pathogen interaction have not been described yet.

Using a wide range of cutting-edge microbiology, cell biology and biochemistry methods including gene-editing, infection assays, microscopy and proteomics this interdisciplinary project aims to (1) characterise the activities of the effectors, (2) dissect their roles and the roles of their target proteins in host subversion and response to Legionella and bacterial infection in general and (3) assess the potential to target these mechanisms to limit infection.

To achieve this, the supervisory team will provide access to technical knowhow and mentoring to support the candidate’s development of essential research skills, project management, writing and communication, all underpinning a successful career in biomedical research.

Please contact me for more information about the project and application process.

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