PhD project: How antibiotics work

Project description

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.

Project supervisor

The project supervisor welcomes informal enquiries about this project.

Find out more about this research area

The links below summarise our research in the area(s) relevant to this project:

What next?

More PhD projects