PhD opportunity in Fighting the Superbugs – Using novel tools to understand how bacteria control expression of antibiotic resistance and biofilm formation (WEBBER_F17IFRQI)


Contract length: 48 months
Applications Close: 8 May 2017

Fighting the Superbugs – Using novel tools to understand how bacteria control expression of antibiotic resistance and biofilm formation (WEBBER_F17IFRQI)

PhD : 4 year Project

Antibiotic resistant bacteria are a major threat to human and animal health. One major mechanism of resistance is the expression of multidrug resistance (MDR) efflux pumps which export antibiotics out of the cell. All bacteria have several MDR pumps whose expression can be turned on in response to antibiotics. Another mechanism of antibiotic resistance is bacterial biofilm formation where cells form aggregates and/or adhere to surfaces. Biofilms are not easily killed by antibiotics and involved in most infections.

Recently we have found a link between these mechanisms and have shown that MDR efflux is needed for biofilm formation; if you block efflux, genes required for biofilm formation are turned off. This represents a novel opportunity to develop efflux inhibitors that will make bacteria a) easier to treat with antibiotics and b) less able to cause infection by blocking biofilms. To develop this novel strategy, we need a better understanding of how MDR efflux genes are regulated by bacteria which is currently lacking.

This project aims to identify the regulator genes that link MDR efflux function and biofilm formation. To do this we will use novel tools that can identify all the genes in the chromosome which contribute to efflux function. Specifically, we will use Salmonella as a model and make a large library of mutants with genes inactivated or over-produced. The library will be screened for mutants able to survive antibiotic exposure. Sequencing will then be used to identify genes needed to survive. We will then characterise which of these genes also affect biofilm and work out how they do this. The project offers a unique collaboration between the research groups of Dr Mark Webber and Prof John Wain and the student will benefit from expertise of both groups.

This project is awarded with a 4-year Institute of Food Research (IFR)/Quadram Institute (QI) PhD studentship. A stipend will be provided for each year of the studentship (2017/8 rate will be £14,553.00pa). Tuition fees are covered for UK/EU rate. International students are eligible for funding but will need to find their own support to cover the extra tuition fees chargeable to overseas students. (Tuition fee rates for 2017/8 for UK/EU students is £4,195.00, for international students it is £18,000.00).

For further information and to apply, please visit the ‘How to Apply’ page on our website:

Supervisor: Mark Webber
Project Start Date: 01 Oct 2017

Application Deadline: 08 May 2017

For more information, please contact:

Mark Webber


This website uses cookies to store your data, for more details see our cookies page

Accept cookies