PhD Studentship in Targeting Intrinsic Mechanisms of Antibiotic Resistance in Bacterial Pathogens

University of Southampton School of Chemistry

PhD Studentship in Targeting Intrinsic Mechanisms of Antibiotic Resistance in Bacterial Pathogens

Chemical Biology, Diagnostics & Therapeutics

Location: Highfield Campus

Closing Date: Sunday 31 October 2021

Reference: 1467321EB

Project title: Targeting intrinsic mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens

Supervisory Team: Dr Seung Lee

Project description

A fully-funded 3.5 year PhD studentship (jointly with Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) in chemical biology and medicinal chemistry at the University of Southampton is available. The project will pioneer a novel strategy to tackle polymyxin resistance through the small molecule approach.

Multidrug resistant (MDR) pathogens are among the top threats to global public health, which have evolved to resist any conventional antibiotics. Polymyxins are the last line of defence against Gram negative resistance pathogens. However, the rapid development of polymyxin resistance deprives us of this precious option. Our approach is to tackle multiple targets involved in the resistant mechanisms based on thorough understanding of how polymyxin resistance arises. Initially, we will apply a core technology of modern chemical biology, metabolic labelling, to identify effective targets and their inhibitors. In addition, we will also explore diverse approaches including high throughput screening and rational design. Thus, the project is high multi-disciplinary encompassing the core technologies of chemical biology, medicinal chemistry, structural biology and microbiology.

You will establish a methodology to evaluate the polymyxin resistant pathway in a model species through bioinformatics, microbiological and chemical analysis. Then, you will design, synthesise, screen and test small molecules that affect the resistant mechanism. At a certain point, it is anticipated that you will undertake a placement at DSTL and Public Health England (agreed as part of the project plan). The duration is flexible in length and form, but might be for example at least a period of 3 months. During this placement, you will be trained in handling level 2 bacteria under supervision of Dr Philip Ireland according to the Dstl guidelines, and in a range of microbiological techniques by Dr Mark Sutton in PHE, to expand the scope of the application to biodefence and wider public health.

The studentship provides fees and stipends on a UKRI scale for three and half years, and due to the restrictions, accepts applicants from UK. We particularly encourage applicants with background of chemistry who are strongly interested in biological application (e.g. chemical biology, medicinal chemistry).

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Seung Lee, School of Chemistry, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 592987.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 October 2021 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £15,609 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online here selecting “PhD Chemistry (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Seung Lee under the Proposed Supervisor.

Applications should include:

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact: