PhD project: How antibiotics work
The global health challenge posed by antibiotic resistant infections is now becoming widely recognized. Remarkably, despite the importance of antibiotics, we have few biophysical models for how they work to prevent bacterial growth. We have recently shown that for one class of antibiotics, which target bacterial protein production, a beautifully simple theoretical model can explain experimental observations that some antibiotics work well for fast-growing cells whereas others are better for slow-growing cells. We have also shown that whether bacteria are growing fast or slowly has important effects on the efficacy of another class of antibiotics, that target bacterial cell wall synthesis. This is important because it provides a strategy for targeting acute (fast-growing) versus chronic (slow-growing) infections.
In this project, you will investigate further how cell-wall targeting antibiotics work on fast-growing versus slow-growing cells. Cell wall-targeting antibiotics are some of the most widely used clinically, and understanding better how they work can not only point to better treatment strategies, but can also tell us a lot of fundamental information about how bacteria build their cell walls. This project could be done from a theoretical point of view (constructing and solving simple numerical models for bacterial cell wall synthesis) or from an experimental point of view (growing bacteria and measuring their susceptibility to antibiotics), or in a combined approach. Prior biological knowledge is not required.
- Professor Rosalind Allen (School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)
The project supervisor welcomes informal enquiries about this project.
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The links below summarise our research in the area(s) relevant to this project:
- Find out more about Physics of Living Matter.
- Find out more about the Institute for Condensed Matter and Complex Systems.
- Find out how to apply for our PhD degrees.
- Find out about fees and funding and studentship opportunities.
- View and complete the application form (on the main University website).
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