Validating potassium channels from apthogenic fungi as new targets for antifungal therapies

  • Application end date: 11th February 2018
  • Funding Availability: Funded PhD project (EU/UK students only)
  • Department: School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr Anthony Lewis, Dr Roger Draheim

Project code: PHBM3960218

Project description

Fungal pathogens are a significant threat to human health and global food security. Opportunistic human fungal infections kill more people every year than tuberculosis and malaria combined, while plant fungal diseases have a devastating socio-economic impact due to destruction of rice and cereal crops, the main source of calories to over half the world’s population. The effectiveness of current fungicides to treat human infections and agricultural blights is in rapid decline due to evolving fungal resistance and is complicated by biological similarities between fungi and their hosts. New fungal specific targets for future anti-microbial strategies are desperately required. Data from the Lewis lab indicates that plasma membrane potassium channels, named TOK, are novel targets for future antimicrobial compounds for combating deleterious fungal pathogens in both humans and plants. TOK is a plasma membrane potassium ion channel found only in fungi and no similar protein exists in humans, animals or plants. The unique fungal specific nature of TOK channels makes them ideal targets for future fungicidal compounds. However, little is known about their expression, structure, function, pharmacology and regulation in pathogenic fungi.

The purpose of this research project will be to characterise the function and regulation of TOK channels, their role in fungal cell physiology and virulence of pathogenic fungi. The student will be trained in a wide range of complementary laboratory techniques including microbiology, electrophysiology, molecular biology, yeast genetics, and microscopy, housed within our dedicated Ion Channel Research Laboratory and extensive facilities across the Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Science. Applicants should therefore ideally have previous experience in one or more of these areas, although they will receive training in all relevant areas. More information about the Ion Channel Research Group can be found at

In addition, students will have access to a vast number of training resources available through the Graduate School at the University of Portsmouth including those geared toward improving presentation skills, time-management and project organisation skills, reviewing literature, thesis writing, data analysis and statistics, and other various related training modules. This will prepare the student well for a future career in academia or industry.

Portsmouth is a vibrant waterfront city on the south coast of England and is within easy reach of London. The city is compact and friendly with the University at its heart.

Supervisor profiles

Dr Anthony Lewis

Dr Roger Draheim

Admissions criteria

You’ll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (depending upon chosen course, minimum second class or equivalent) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Specific candidate requirements

This laboratory-based project would be suitable for a bioscience graduate e.g. biomedical science, biochemistry, pharmacology or similar.


Informal enquiries are encouraged and can be made to Dr Anthony Lewis at (02392 842664) or Dr Roger Draheim at (02392 842133).

For administrative and admissions enquiries please contact

How to Apply

You can apply online at You are required to create an account which gives you the flexibility to save the form, log out and return to it at any time convenient to you.

A link to the online application form and comprehensive guidance notes can be found at

When applying, please quote project code: PHBM3960218.

Interview date: TBC

Start date: October 2018.

Funding notes

The fully-funded, full-time three-year studentship provides a stipend that is in line with that offered by Research Councils UK of £14,553 per annum.

The above applies for Home/EU students only.

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