PhD Project: Exploring Antimicrobial Resistance in the human GI Microbiome

  • West Midlands, All EnglandWest Midlands, All England


125th Anniversary Scholarship in Institute of Microbiology & Infection

PhD Project: Exploring Antimicrobial Resistance in the human GI Microbiome

This PhD project will be based in the Institute of Microbiology and Infection which is part of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences.

The deadline for applications is 23:59 (UK time) on Tuesday 30 April 2024.

About the project

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious global health problem, which can lead to untreatable bacterial infections. AMR genes can be easily shared between bacteria on transmissible elements such as plasmids. AMR plasmids can carry a variety of resistance genes, and transfer of these plasmids can cause difficult to treat infections. Particularly problematic are carbapenem resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, and extended-spectrum beta-lactam resistant Escherichia coli. Pathogens with plasmids carrying AMR genes are responsible for some of the most difficult to treat and often multi-drug resistant infections.

A key hotspot for the transmission of AMR between bacteria is the gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome. For example, AMR genes can be acquired after travel to countries with high AMR levels, or after medical care. This makes the microbiome an important reservoir of AMR, and a key environment where AMR transmission is likely to occur.

We propose using a combination of classical microbiology, fluorescent based techniques, and genomics to monitor AMR plasmid dynamics within a state-of-the-art multi-vessel bioreactor model of the colonic microbiome.

Specifically, this project will explore how fluorescently tagged AMR plasmids persist, transmit, and evolve within the human microbiome. We will explore the microbiome-produced factors which influence AMR plasmid dynamics. Together this project will help to disentangle how AMR transmission in the microbiome occurs and contribute to our efforts to minimise the impacts of AMR.

Please contact Dr. Buckner for further information about the project.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have a strong background in microbiology, and ideally a background in bioinformatics, immunology and/or biochemistry. They should have a commitment to research in microbiology and hold or realistically expect to obtain at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a related field, including but not limited to: Biomedical Science, Microbiology, Immunology, Biochemistry.

Who can apply?

These scholarships are designed to create opportunities and address the underrepresentation of talented Black or Black mixed heritage students in academia. Applicants who meet all of the following criteria are eligible to apply:

1. UK nationals and eligible for registration as Home students

2. Members of one of the following ethnic groups:

  • Black African
  • Black Caribbean
  • Black Other
  • Mixed – White and Black Caribbean
  • Mixed – White and Black African
  • Other mixed background (to include Black African, Black Caribbean or Black Other)

3. Not already enrolled on a PhD programme at the University of Birmingham

What does the scholarship provide?

1. Financial Support: Recipients of these scholarships will receive substantial financial support, including a stipend at UKRI rates, which is set at £18,622 per year. This support covers tuition fees, living expenses, and research-related costs, including bench fees. This support is designed to alleviate the financial burden often associated with pursuing a doctoral degree.

2. Mentorship and Guidance: Scholarship recipients will benefit from mentorship opportunities and guidance from accomplished faculty members who are dedicated to helping them succeed in their academic and research endeavours.

3. Research Opportunities: We are committed to providing an exceptional research environment. Students will have access to state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge resources, and a vibrant scholarly community.

4. Community Building: A key component of the scholarship programme is the creation of a supportive community of Black British researchers pursuing PhDs. This network will foster collaboration and peer support among scholars.

5. Research Training Support Grant: In addition to financial support, scholarship recipients will receive a research training support grant. This grant is intended to support conference attendance, fieldwork, and other essential activities that enhance their research and academic growth.

6. Commitment to Inclusivity: We are dedicated to building an inclusive academic environment that values diversity and ensures equitable access to education.

Contact the lead supervisor

Once applicants have familiarised themselves with the above project details, they are encouraged to contact the lead PhD supervisor to discuss the project and the applicant’s suitability for the project. This is recommended before you submit an application to the PhD project.


How to apply

After applicants have made contact with the lead PhD supervisor, you will then need to apply to the PhD project using our online application portal: you should select ‘125th Anniversary Scholarships (MDS)‘. You will need to create an account for the online application portal and you will be prompted to sign-in upon your return to the portal.

You do not need to complete your application in one session; you can save your application at each stage and return to the portal at any stage before submission, particularly if you do not have all of the necessary documents when you begin your application.

As this is an ‘advertised PhD’, in which you will studying the above project that has already been provided by the academic supervisor(s), you do not need to submit a research proposal. Your personal statement will suffice for determining your suitability for the PhD project as well as your previous academic, professional and personal experiences.

The deadline for applications is 23:59 (UK time) on Tuesday 30 April 2024.

For your application you will need to submit the following documents:

  • Personal Statement
  • References
  • Academic certificate and transcript(s) for all prior degrees
  • Sample Work


Who is eligible to apply?

Please visit website for details

Learn more about University of Birmingham

Where is University of Birmingham?

News stories