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Preterm birth (<37 weeks) complicates nearly 60,000 pregnancies per year and causes over 40 deaths each week in England and Wales. Babies who survive preterm birth have high rates of cerebral palsy, chronic lung disease and neurodevelopmental delay, and at least 40% of all premature births are associated with intrauterine infection.
Determining the pathogen and antimicrobial resistance profile is crucial to developing effective treatment strategies, but current gold standard culture tests can take between two and three days to get results. In this project, we aim to develop an alternative approach using nanopore sequencing, a cheap, portable and rapid technology with the potential to provide clinically relevant information within a few hours.
We will combine metagenomics and metatranscriptomics to profile samples from mothers of preterm and term babies to better understand infection and the role played by the microbiome and key transcriptional biomarkers in the mechanisms of preterm delivery.
This project is a collaboration between scientists from UEA, the Earlham Institute, Quadram Institute Bioscience, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and industrial CASE partner, Oxford Nanopore Technologies.
The research team combines expertise in medicine, molecular biology, bioinformatics, sequencing technology and pathogen diagnostics. It would suit a candidate who is excited about experimental lab work as well as data analysis and bioinformatics.
About the MMB DTP
This iCASE studentship within the Microbes, Microbiomes and Bioinformatics (MMB) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) is open to UK and international candidates with relevant undergraduate degrees for entry in October 2024 and offers the opportunity to undertake a fully-funded 4-year PhD research project supported by the UKRI Medical Research Council in microbiology and microbial bioinformatics.
Our unique and comprehensive training programme empowers students to feel comfortable running sophisticated computer analyses alongside laboratory work and emphasises problem-based learning in microbial bioinformatics, professional development and research skills. All MMB DTP iCASE students undertake a Professional Placement lasting three to 18 months with the non-academic partner during their study. The placement offers experience designed to enhance professional development.
Interviews for shortlisted candidates will take place on Wednesday 14 February or Thursday 15 February 2024.
The MRC DTP is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. Students are selected without regard to age, disability, gender identity, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, ethnicity, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation or social background. We value curiosity, independence of thought, plus an aptitude for research that combines laboratory work and bioinformatics.
For information on eligibility and how to apply please visit here.
At least UK equivalence Bachelors (Honours) 2:1 or UK equivalence Master's degree. English Language requirement (Faculty of Science equivalent: IELTS 6.5 overall, 6 in each category).
This project is awarded with a 4-year studentship including direct payment of tuition fees to the University, stipend for living expenses (2023/4 rate: £18,622) and a Research Training Support Grant for each year of the studentship. MMB DTP iCASE studentships include additional annual contributions to the maintenance stipend and research and training costs.
Studentship funding does not normally cover costs associated with visa or health surcharges or additional costs associated with entry to, and living in, the UK.
Developing algorithms to enable new technologies.