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PhD Studentship in Cell and Molecular Biosciences - Mechanistic understanding of cell wall biosynthesis to combat antimicrobial resistance

Value of award

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £14,525.   Successful international candidates will be required to make up the difference between the UK/EU fees and international fees.

Number of awards


Start date and duration

25 September 2017 for 3 years.

Application closing date

Friday 31 March 2017


β-lactam antibiotics (e.g. penicillin) have been a mainstay of human healthcare for >70 years. These antibiotics target bacterial cell wall peptidoglycan (PG) biosynthesis. PG surrounds the cytoplasmic membrane to protect the cell, to maintain cell shape and to permit growth and division. PG is polymerized and cross-linked by penicillin-binding-proteins (PBPs). Despite the importance of β-lactam antibiotics, we know little about how PBPs interact with their natural substrates, precisely what these substrates are, or how polymerization and cross-linking is co-ordinated and controlled on every level. We do not even understand fully how β-lactams kill cells. Addressing these knowledge gaps is crucial as resistance to β-lactams has emerged, and antimicrobial resistance is a growing global concern. We and our academic partners in Sheffield, Oxford and Warwick have been funded by the MRC recently to build an integrated, multi-centre, multidisciplinary research programme to:

  1. Decipher the fundamental molecular mechanisms of PBPs.
  2. Determine how PBP activity is controlled by their interaction with other cell wall/division components.
  3. Design and synthesis of new generation PBP inhibitors

One PhD studentships is available in the Newcastle group of Professor Waldemar Vollmer, with Professor Rick Lewis of the structural biology group as co-supervisor. Students with an interest in molecular biology, microbiology, biochemistry, structural biology and drug discovery are encouraged to apply. 


Newcastle University

Name of supervisor(s)

Professor W Vollmer, Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences

Professor R Lewis, Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences

Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree in biochemistry, biophysics, microbiology or a related area. A further qualification such as an MSc or MRes is advantageous.

The award is available to UK/EU and international applicants. If English is not your first language, you must have IELTS 6.5, or equivalent.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create a new account’.  Only mandatory fields need to be completed. However, you will need to include the following information:


For further details, please contact:
Professor W Vollmer
Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences