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PhD Studentship - Antimicrobial Resistance: hijacking bacterial signal transduction pathways to increase antibiotic uptake

Chemical Biology, Diagnostics & Therapeutics

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Tuesday 31 March 2020
Reference:  1245520EB

Supervisor:                 Dr Seung Lee

Co-supervisor             Dr Nicholas D. Evans, Dr Tracey Newman

Project description

A fully-funded 3 year PhD studentship (Institute for Life Sciences studentship) in chemical biology and medicinal chemistry at the University of Southampton is available. The project will pioneer a novel strategy to tackle antimicrobial 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. Many efforts are being made to overcome these problems, and our approach is to utilise a novel drug influx mechanism of bacteria. Based on the fundamental understanding of the signalling system that triggers the expression of a drug influx channel, we aim to develop activators of this signalling pathway. This is a totally new concept of an antibiotic approach in contrast to traditional inhibitory strategies. We will discover and optimise these carbohydrate based small molecule activators of an antibiotic. This accelerated influx of drug molecules will overwhelm the efflux or modification of drugs by bacteria, eventually overturning the resistance. In addition, we will devise a further strategy of delivering this molecule inside infected macrophages, targeting dormant pathogens. Thus, the project will establish resistance breakers and antibiotic potentiators.

You will design, synthesise and test biologically small molecules that activate the drug influx channel. At a certain point, you will also be involved in the development of a drug carrier for macrophage delivery. This interdisciplinary project will be performed in Chemistry in the first place, and as the project is going on, you will need to spend some time in Engineering and Medicine.  

The studentship provides fees and stipends on a UKRI scale for three years, and welcomes applicants from UK and EU. We particularly encourage applicants with background of chemistry who are interested in chemical biology, organic chemistry and/or 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 March 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition for EU/UK Students plus, for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £15,009 tax-free per annum for up to 3 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

Research Proposal

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact: 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is central to the ethos in Chemistry. In recognition of our continued commitment to improving equality for women in science we were awarded an Athena SWAN Silver award in 2014 a and a second Silver award in 2017.  Chemistry gives full consideration to applicants that wish to work flexibly including part-time and due consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a career break. The University has a generous maternity policy*, onsite childcare facilities. For further information please visit

The closing date for this job opportunity has now passed, and applications are no longer being accepted for this position

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