Developing a novel vaccine for Group B Streptococcus

Applications are invited for the Dr Christine King PhD in Biomedical Sciences three-year studentship. The studentship will start on 1 October 2023.

Apply

To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for PhD Biomedical Sciences (and select the entry point of October 2023), then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship and name the project at the top of your personal statement.

Online application

Before applying, please ensure you have read the Doctoral College’s general information on applying for a research degree.

For more information on the admissions process please contact research.degree.admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

Director of Studies: Professor Mathew Upton
2nd Supervisor: Dr Michael Jarvis
3rd Supervisor: Dr Matt Banton 
Applications are invited for the Dr Christine King PhD in Biomedical Sciences three-year studentship. The studentship will start on 1 October 2023. However, if a suitably qualified candidate can start on 1 April 2023, this may also be considered.

Project description

The power of vaccines to prevent infectious disease has been very clearly demonstrated in the past 18 months with the incredibly rapid development of novel vaccines to prevent COVID-19 disease. 
We are working on novel approaches that use virus vectors to deliver vaccines in a safe and effective way to control devastating diseases like Ebola and reduce infections in farmed animals, so that they are given antibiotics less frequently. This both controls infection and reduces antibiotic use, helping to address the global threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
In this exciting project, a novel vaccine will be developed to help prevent neonatal infection with Group B Streptococcus (GBS), which can colonise pregnant mothers and get passed to babies in utero or during birth. Babies colonised in this way can develop neonatal sepsis, with potentially long-term disability or fatal consequences: GBS causes ~150,000 deaths each year, more than half a million preterm births and significant long-term disability. GBS disease is currently controlled by treating mothers with antibiotics during birth, but an effective vaccine would remove that need and could protect babies in a safer way and also reduce AMR.
Last year, the WHO highlighted the urgent need for a new vaccine to prevent GBS disease. In this project, cutting-edge DNA sequence analysis will be used to identify GBS antigens that could be good targets for a vaccine and these will be introduced into virus vectors and tested in the lab to help identify the most promising potential vaccines. The project will include training and research in bioinformatics, molecular biology, microbiology and immunology. This combined approach is different to any currently being used to develop vaccines and has the potential to provide highly effective vaccines for further development.

Eligibility

Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant Masters qualification.
The studentship is supported for 3 years and includes full Home tuition fees plus a stipend of £17,668 per annum (2022/23 rate). The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for Home fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover International fees will have to cover the difference between the Home and the International tuition fee rates (approximately £12,670 per annum).
NB: The studentship is supported for three years of the four-year registration period. The fourth year is a self-funded ‘writing-up’ year.
If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Professor Mathew Upton 
Please see our 'how to apply for a research degree' page for a list of supporting documents to upload with your application.
For more information on the admissions process generally, please contact research.degree.admissions@plymouth.ac.uk. 
The closing date for applications is 12 noon on 16 February 2023. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview shortly after the deadline. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received a response within six weeks of the closing date should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.