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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

PhD opportunities


BSMS > Postgraduate > Research degrees > PhD opportunities

PhD opportunities

All our current PhD opportunites are listed on this page. If you would like to undertake a PhD at BSMS, please contact potential supervisors directly.

If you are applying for a specific project that is advertised below, there is no need to write a research proposal. Simply give the details provided in the advertisement in the Research Proposal section of the online application form.

If you require entry clearance to study in the UK, please see the ATAS information.

New drugs for tuberculosis; characterisation of efflux pumps and their inhibitors

Project description: We need more drugs to treat tuberculosis (TB), particularly multi-drug-resistant (MDR) TB. TB drug therapy must to be shortened by using more effective drug combinations. Extensively-drug resistant (XDR) Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates are virtually untreatable with existing antimicrobials. Therefore, new classes of drugs, that have novel modes of action, are needed for the treatment of TB. Antimicrobial drug resistance in M. tuberculosis cannot be explained solely by the accumulation of resistance-conferring gene mutations; phenotypic mechanisms (such as removal of drug by efflux pumps) also have an important role to play. Efflux-mediated tolerance to bedaquiline has already arisen in clinical isolates despite its very recent introduction. M. tuberculosis efflux mechanisms are likely to reduce the efficacy of new and existing antimicrobials, and may potentiate the emergence of drug resistance. Current anti-tuberculosis drugs are substrates for different efflux pathways that are likely expressed at different stages of infection. However, this has not been demonstrated systematically. This project aims to (1) investigate the regulation of M. tuberculosis efflux pumps in response to frontline antimicrobial drugs; (2) determine the antibiotic-specificity of M. tuberculosis efflux pumps; and (3) assess the impact of efflux inhibitors on drug-tolerance and drug resistance in TB. The project will involve aspects of microbiology, bioinformatics, genomics/transcriptomics, and biochemistry in infectious disease research. 

As this is a multidisciplinary project, the successful applicant will hold a degree in microbiology or a closely related subject, with substantial components of molecular biology and biochemistry. Preferably she/he will have gained some lab experience by doing a sandwich year/summer work/MSc project. The student will need to be able to demonstrate good knowledge of bacterial physiology and molecular genetics. It is expected that they will have a strong interest in M. tuberculosis. Applicants should be enthusiastic, a good communicator, and have a mature attitude towards research. The student will learn a number of techniques during the life of the project, including Containment Level 3 work with TB strains, chemostat culture of M. tuberculosis, drug evaluation and antibiotic resistance characterisation, mutant generation, transcriptomics, whole genome sequencing, and flow cytometry. 

The project is based in the TB research Programme at Public Health England, National Infection Service, Porton Down, Salisbury, UK. There is an expectation that the student will learn to become part of the team and take some responsibility for lab duties/report and manuscript writing. Applicants will need to have a good Health and Safety track record at University and/or in previous places of employment. This project is in collaboration with Dr Simon Waddell at the Wellcome Trust Brighton and Sussex Centre for Global Health Research, Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), Brighton, UK. BSMS is an equal partnership between the Universities of Sussex and Brighton together with NHS staff throughout the South East Region. The student will be registered with the University of Brighton. The student will spend part of their time (up to 25%) at BSMS on the molecular aspects of the project and will access training and career development opportunities through the University of Brighton and following university postgraduate support guidelines. 

Please submit a covering letter describing why you are interested in the project and a CV to Dr Joanna Bacon.

Funding notes: EU applicants must demonstrate a relevant connection to the UK through ordinary residence. As a UK public funded body, PHE cannot fund applicants from outside the EU. PHE studentships do not carry visas so all applicants must have a valid, independent reason, for staying in the UK for the duration of the project.

Wellcome clinical PhD programme in global health research

Open for applications from 19 November 2016

The Wellcome Clinical PhD Programme in Global Health Research is a partnership between the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University College London, King’s College London, Queen Mary University of London, St George’s University of London and Brighton and Sussex Medical School bringing together their expertise in global health research. The Programme provides postgraduate training opportunities to clinicians committed to undertaking research on the health problems of low and middle income countries.

The Programme will support up to four clinical PhD fellowships each year over the next five years. The first intake will commence in the academic year 2017/2018.

The aim of the Programme is to support the most promising clinicians who wish to undertake rigorous research training and complete a research project in the field of global health. The Programme will focus on the following six key areas:

  • HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria
  • Neglected tropical diseases
  • Maternal and child health
  • Mental health
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Non-communicable diseases.

The Programme has a large pool of potential-supervisors who have a breadth of clinical specialities and experience in these areas.

Successful applicants will develop their potential to become academic clinicians within a structured and mentored training environment. They will, usually, spend up to two years overseas in a low or middle income country based in well-established research groups.

Financial support is for three years and includes a clinical salary, research expenses, general training funds and travel costs.

Applicants must be fully-qualified medical doctors (with no more than 10 years’ whole time equivalent [WTE] career experience after full medical qualification at the time of applying), have a right to work in the UK, be eligible for home/EU PhD fees and should be currently engaged in a specialist training programme and not yet awarded a CCT or equivalent. They must demonstrate academic excellence and a commitment to pursuing a career as an academic clinician with an interest in global health.

more about the programme and how to apply >

PhD studentships now recruited

  • Epidemiology of cancer in the elderly (aged > 65 years) in England
  • The roles of oxidative stress and redox regulation in chronic inflammatory disease (Supervisors: Dr Lisa Mullen, Prof Pietro Ghezzi, Prof Kevin Davies)
  • Pillars of Expertise: Visual Perception & Memory (Supervisors: Dr Natasha Sigala, Prof Mara Cercignani)
  • Investigating the genetic basis of osteosarcoma in children & dogs (Supervisors: Prof Sarah Newbury, Dr Peter Bush, Dr Chris Jones)
  • The embodiment of unconscious knowledge in maladaptive behaviour (Supervisors: Prof Hugo Critchley, Dr Sarah Garfinkel, Prof Dora Duka)
  • Can simulation clarify diagnostic skills for newly qualified doctors? (Supervisors: Dr Inam Haq, Dr Wesley Scott-Smith)
  • Impact of oxytocin on emotional regulation in binge drinking and alcoholism: behavioural, physiological and fMRI investigations (Supervisors: Prof Hugo Critchley, Prof Dora Duka)
  • Developing an algorithm for predicting children with severe asthma (Supervisors: Prof Somnath Mukhopadhyay, Dr Katy Fidler)
  • Development of a refined model of neuropathic pain: a model without frank nerve injury (Supervisors: Dr Andrew Dilley, Prof Pietro Ghezzi)
  • Role of secreted oxidoreductases in osteoarthritis, rheumathoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (Supervisors: Prof Pietro Ghezzi, Dr Manuela Mengozzi)
  • Measuring quality of life in severe dementia: validation of DEMQOL-Proxy in family and professional carers of people with severe dementia (Prof Sube Banerjee, Dr Naji Tabet)
  • Stigma in health care: Does it influence the way general practitioners record consultations? (Supervisors: Dr Elizabeth Ford, Prof Helen Smith, Prof Flis Henwood)