Medicine: Fully Funded PhD at Swansea: Host and bacterial biomarkers to predict sepsis

  • Phd
  • Full cost of UK tuition fees and an annual stipend
  • 12 August 2021
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This scholarship is funded by the Swansea University Medical School (SUMS).

Start date: October 2021

Project supervisor: Dr Tom Wilkinson

Subject areas: Infectious Disease

Bacterial sepsis kills 52,000 people each year in the UK, and¬†E. coli¬†strains are a major cause. Repeated failures of disease-modifying therapies for sepsis syndrome in phase 3 clinical trials indicate the need for improved understanding of its pathophysiology. Better predictive invasion models and new targets are needed to refine our understanding of pathogen invasion, a key step towards systemic spread and establishment of sepsis syndrome. We have identified genes associated with¬†E. coli¬†bloodstream isolates from confirmed sources of infection in the urinary tract and intra-abdominal sites. Our goal is to confirm the function of these genes as host invasion biomarkers in a new 3D model of mucosal immunity in bladder and gut epithelium. We will produce cell scaffolds by electrospinning biocompatible fibres from collagen, and integrate epithelial cell-derived matrices into them to build reproducible bladder and gut cell walls.¬†E. coli¬†invasion will be investigated in this model. Application of a new biomarker-discovery pipeline beyond this studentship will see us use our links to local health boards, providing analysis of patient data to identify bacterial genomic and host response ‚Äėrisk-factors‚Äô for invasive disease. The successful candidate with join the Microbiology and Infectious Disease (MID) team, on the 1st¬†and 5th¬†floor of the Institute of Life Science building on the Swansea University singleton campus. We also have numerous collaborators in Engineering (Dr Chris Wight), in SUMS, and in the Hywel Dda University Health Board.


Candidates must have a minimum of upper second class Honours degree in biological sciences, microbiology, immunology, cellular biology, medical sciences. Medical engineering background also considered.

Experience of working in cell culture and with Cat 2 microorganisms are an advantage but not essential as training will be provided. Experience in working with NHS colleagues also an advantage.

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK candidates only.


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This scholarship covers the full cost of UK tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,609. Additional funds will be available for conference attendance.


Please visit our website for more information.
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