PhD Studentship in Microbiology – Targeting Cell Wall Synthesis in Rhodococcus Hoagii, a New Bacterial Target for Treatment of Ulcerative Enterocolitis and Fatal Bronchopneumonia in Foals

Newcastle University

Award summary

100% of home tuition fees paid and an annual stipend (living expenses) of £28,000 for a veterinary graduate or £22,500 for a non-veterinary science graduate. 


Are you interested in learning how to characterise an antibiotics mode of action and its development as a potential drug to move into clinical trials? This project will work on the development of a novel compound series which has shown potential as a treatment of fatal bronchopneumonia in foals.

Rhodococcus hoagii, formally Rhodococcus equi, is the bacterial pathogen responsible for the horse disease Rattles (bronchopneumonia), and causes fatal pulmonary infections in foals. It is difficult to treat and often requires a prolonged course of multiple antibiotics. Unfortunately, the prognosis of R. hoagii pneumonia is poor even after treatment. Treatment success is further complicated by the increasing emergence of drug-resistant bacterial strains. Consequently, the development of new treatments is of the upmost importance.

This PhD project aims to utilise a multi-disciplinary approach to identify the mode of action of potent selective small molecule therapeutics which target a novel molecular pathway for R. hoagii survival, offering a new approach to treatment of this costly disease. You will learn how to relate aspects of both the biological and chemical properties of this compound series to the treatment of the infection.  

Number of awards: 1

Start date: 18th September 2023

Award duration: The funding covers a four-year PhD.

Sponsor: Horserace Betting Levy Board


Dr Alistair K Brown  – Biosciences Institute

Dr Jon D Sellars  – School of Pharmacy

Eligibility criteria

You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree or international equivalent, in a subject relating to Biomedical Sciences.

This award is available to home and international applicants. Successful international candidates will be required to make up the difference between home fees and international fees.

How to apply

To apply for a studentship, you must register and apply through the University’s Apply to Newcastle Portal

Once registered select ‘Create a Postgraduate Application’.

Use ‘Course Search’ to identify your programme of study:

  • you can search for the ‘Course Title’ using the programme code: 8420F
  • select PhD Biosciences (FT)’ as the programme of study

You will then need to provide the following information in the ‘Further Questions’ section:

  • A ‘Personal Statement’ (this is a mandatory field)
  • The studentship code BI067 in the ‘Studentship/Partnership Reference’ field
  • When prompted for how you are providing your research proposal – select ‘Write Proposal’. You should then type in the title of the research project from this advert.

In addition, before you submit your application you will need to upload the following supporting documentation:

  • Covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code BI067 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project 
  • Degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualification if already completed.

You will not be able to submit your application until you have submitted all required documents/information.

Contact details: Dr. Alistair K Brown – [email protected]

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