Self-funded PhD opportunities

Validation of potassium channels from pathogenic fungi as promising new targets for antifungal therapies

  • Application end date: Applications accepted all year round
  • Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only
  • Department: School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences
  • PhD Supervisor: Anthony Lewis and Roger Draheim

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 http://www.port.ac.uk/institute-of-biomedical-and-biomolecular-science/cell-biology-and-pharmacology/anthony-lewis/.

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. More information about living in the city and working at the university can be seen here.

Funding notes:

This PhD opportunity is available to self-funded students. Bench fees may apply. For more information please contact the project supervisor.

How to apply:

To apply or make an enquiry, please visit postgraduate research: Biomedical, Biomolecular and Pharmacy

All applications should use our standard application forms and follow the instructions given under the ‘Research Degrees’ heading on the following webpages: http://www.port.ac.uk/application-fees-and-funding/applying-postgraduate/#rd.

When applying please note the project code - PHBM3000217