PhD Bioactive Sugars – sweet alternatives to antibiotics

Norwich Research Park, Doctoral Antimicrobial Research Training (DART)

MRC iCASE PhD studentship – Bioactive sugars – sweet alternatives to antibiotics

Supervisors: Rob Field (John Innes Centre), Nathalie Juge (Quadram Institute), Simone Dedola (Iceni Diagnostics)

Antimicrobial resistance, or AMR, is recognised as one of the most serious global threats to human health in the 21st century.  In this context, alternatives to antibiotics to prevent or to treat infectious diseases are urgently needed. Pathogen species present a wide range of strain-specific carbohydrates and carbohydrate-binding proteins on their cell surfaces, which provide novel opportunities and targets for detection, prevention and intervention through diet or with novel therapeutics.

This project will explore the development of new integrated chemical and biochemical methods for the production of bioactive carbohydrates that have potential to tackle bacteria associated diseases of humans and farm animals. Some of these carbohydrates will be further modified to use as probes to determine the molecular mechanisms underpinning their impact on pathogens, with the aid of structural, microbiological and cell biology studies. Specifically, they will be evaluated for their ability to act: as prebiotics for commensal microorganisms; as receptor decoys for pathogens; and as immune stimulants for the host.

Capitalising on their extensive and synergistic expertise in carbohydrate biochemistry and glycobiology, this project will be run jointly between Rob Field’s group at the John Innes Centre and Nathalie Juge’s group at Quadram Institute Bioscience. It will also involve extensive engagement with the industrial partner, Simone Dedola at Iceni Diagnostics, which is co-located on the Norwich Research Park along with JIC and QIB.  The project would suit an ambitious student, with either a chemical or a biological background, who is keen to work across traditional discipline boundaries. Previous experience in some aspect of glycosciences (chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology) is desirable but full training will be provided.

Informal enquiries may be directed to rob.field@jic.ac.uknathalie.juge@quadram.ac.uksimone.dedola@icenidiagnostics.com