Vaccines and infectious disease

With one of the largest groupings of microbiologists in the world, we are at the vanguard of innovative research into combatting antimicrobial and antibiotic resistance. We approach this in three ways: diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

Our research is diverse, encompassing the fundamental science of model organisms to the biochemical and biophysical analysis of microbial components, and transnational research on key pathogens of medical and veterinary importance.

A primary focus of our research is combatting the global threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). By taking a multi-disciplinary approach involving genomics, bacterial genetics, molecular microbiology, structural biology and mathematical modelling, our aim is to tackle significant global health-care challenges such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, fungal pathogens, gastrointestinal infection, blood stream infections, and health-care associated infections.  

Projects available under this theme

Find out more about the project and apply directly to the scholarships via the listings below. You can also follow our guidance on how to apply to the Global Challenges PhD Scholarships.

A drug-redeployment screen for the lethal trauma-associated infection, scedosporiosis

May et al

Scedosporiosis is a trauma-associated fungal infection with 70% mortality and no effective treatment.  It disproportionately affects individuals in resource-poor countries, following deep tissue injuries sustained during agricultural injuries or military conflict.  This project aims to develop low-cost, easily administered antifungals that could be used to treat these infections.  To do so, we will a) develop powerful transgenic tools in Scedosporium species, b) explore the innate immune response to these infections and c) use this information to conduct a high-throughput drug redeployment screen for novel, off-patent antifungals.

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Identifying and evaluating sub-dominant TB antigens –  a new approach to find new vaccines

McNally and O’Shea

With the increasing incidence of multi-drug resistance in bacterial pathogens, and the paucity of new antimicrobial drugs in industrial development, it is clear we need to develop new strategies to combat MDR bacterial infections. This project will combine the power of bacterial genomics to develop a novel strategy for identifying potential vaccine candidates for bacteria pathogens, with data verified using clinical material from humans and assessments in animal models. The project will focus on Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and will analyse the tens of thousands of available genome sequences of M. tuberculosis to identify genes encoding proteins that are likely to be targets of immune responses. Our leading candidate antigens will then be produced and tested for efficacy using a range of approaches. The interdisciplinary nature of this project means we would ideally look to recruit a candidate with experience in molecular biology and immunology but with a desire and ambition to learn microbial genome analysis and bioinformatics.

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