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Unravelling interkingdom signalling using chemical probes


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Competition funded
Dr Megan Wright
School of Chemistry
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

This proposal is representative of the projects currently on offer in our group. For more details of active research projects, please visit our webpage at: In this project you will synthesise and apply chemical tools to understand the mode of action of small molecules in cells. Rising antimicrobial resistance is a global threat to human health and we need new approaches to tackle bacterial infections. There are ten times as many bacterial as human cells in the human body, yet our understanding of this complex microbiome is rather poor. Cells communicate via chemical signals and there is increasing evidence that bacterial and human cells &lsquo;listen in&rsquo; on each other&rsquo;s communications. For example, bacteria respond to human signalling molecules such as hormones, peptides, lipids and steroids. However, the mechanisms by which bacteria detect host signals are not clear: we lack information on how signals are sensed at the molecular level and how signal transduction pathways operate. In this project you will construct novel chemical tools and platforms to study such &lsquo;interkingdom&rsquo; signalling. In the group we are developing chemical tools to study small molecule-protein interactions in a wide variety of biological systems. We are interested in mapping ligand binding sites on receptors, profiling protein post-translational modifications, and identifying the protein targets of bioactive compounds. One of our approaches is to synthesise functional probes that are &lsquo;weaponised&rsquo; with reactive tags to covalently label proteins, and that are also equipped with additional tags to capture probe-protein complexes for further analysis. This capture chemistry is very versatile and can be used to attach different chemical groups for imaging or identification of proteins by mass spectrometry. In this project you will synthesise new functional probes and apply them to unravel the mode of action of human signals in bacterial pathogens. Over the course of the project you will receive training in organic synthesis, cell biology, biochemical techniques and mass spectrometry-based proteomics. This project would ideally suit a candidate with a chemistry background and a strong interest in applying chemistry to biological problems.

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is &lsquo;Unravelling interkingdom signalling using chemical probes&rsquo; as well as <a href="">Dr Megan Wright&nbsp;</a>as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p><strong>Self-Funding Students</strong></p> <p><strong>Funding Eligibility</strong></p> <p><strong>UK/EU</strong> &ndash;&nbsp;Leeds Doctoral Scholarship Award paying Academic Fees and Maintenance matching EPSRC rate of &pound;15,009 per year for 3 years, Lowson Research Scholarship paying Academic Fees and Maintenance at a fixed rate of &pound;14,000 per year for 3 years, School of Chemistry Scholarship award paying Academic Fees and Maintenance matching EPSRC rate of &pound;15,009 per year for 3 years.&nbsp; Alumni Bursary is available to previous University of Leeds graduates offering 10% discount on Academic Fees.</p> <p><strong>International Students</strong> &ndash;&nbsp;China Scholarship Council-University of Leeds Scholarship Award paying Academic Fees for 3 years,&nbsp;School of Chemistry Scholarship award paying Academic Fees for 3 years, Commonwealth Scholarship and Commonwealth Split Site Scholarships.&nbsp; Alumni Bursary is available to previous University of Leeds graduates offering 10% discount on Academic Fees.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information regarding your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions, by email:&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="">maps.pgr.admissions</a><a href=""></a>, or by telephone: +44 (0)113 343 5057.</p> <p>For further information regarding the project, please contact Dr Magan Wright by email:&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked funding opportunities</h3>