University-funded PhD Studentship, University of Nottingham

Nottingham, ENGLAND | over 2 years ago

University-funded PhD Studentship

Reference : MED1094
Closing Date : 15 July 2012

Clostridia Research Group – Centre for Biomolecular Sciences

University-funded PhD Studentship
Title: The role of amino acid metabolism in Clostridium difficile pathogenicity

Project Supervisors:  Prof Dave Barrett, Prof. Nigel Minton & Dr Klaus Winzer

Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship in microbial physiology and pathogenesis. The main objective of this studentship is to understand the importance of amino acid metabolism for toxin production and proliferation of Clostridium difficile in the gut.

The ‘superbug’ Clostridium difficile is a major cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea and severe inflammation of the colon. In the UK, deaths caused by this bacterium have quadrupled in recent years and the emergence of new, hypervirulent and antibiotic-resistant strains is a particular concern. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop novel therapies to tackle C. difficile infection.

Despite its medical importance, few studies have addressed the means by which this pathogen obtains carbon and energy in the gut and almost nothing is known about the roles played by nutritional and metabolic factors in the control of virulence associated traits. However, it is well established that certain amino acids strongly influence toxin production via yet unknown mechanisms. By using a wide range of state-of-the-art genetic, biochemical, and physiological approaches, we hope to unravel the links between amino acid metabolism and toxin production and to investigate the importance of amino acids for survival of C. difficile in the gut. Targeting the pathways and regulatory mechanism(s) involved could become a promising, novel approach to prophylaxis and therapy of C. difficile-associated infections.

The successful candidate will join a highly motivated and well-funded team of research scientists dedicated to the molecular characterisation and exploitation of clostridial species of medical and industrial importance. The group are located in state-of-the-art facilities in the newly completed, multidisciplinary £25M Centre for Biomolecular Sciences. The CBS houses nearly 400 research staff and is directly connected to the Queens Medical Centre. This provides an active, multidisciplinary research environment with frequent meetings and seminars, and creates a vibrant microbial research community. See for more information on the Clostridial Research Group.
Candidates should have, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second-class degree in a relevant biological subject. This studentship is fully funded at the Standard Research Council stipend rates for 3 years. EU students may apply. Students will be expected to start on 1 October 2012, and stipend will be available for 3 years.

Applications should be in the form of a detailed CV and a covering letter. The CV should contain the names and contacts (including Email addresses) of two referees, and the type, class and grade (or that predicted) of your degree. Please send your application to Dr Klaus Winzer, Centre for Biomolecular Sciences, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD. Email: