This project is now closed. The details on this page are for information only.

This 3-year self-funded PhD will be based in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences and will be supervised by Dr Sarah Fouch and Dr James Brown.

The work on this project will:

  • use molecular and traditional methods to identify, quantify and determine the resistance of single cultures followed by intestinal microbiota using faecal samples obtained from QA hospital, Portsmouth and Hampshire Hospitals Trust, Winchester and Basingstoke, before and after treatment with antimicrobial agents

Antibiotics have been central to human health and longevity, but overuse and inappropriate prescribing practices have seen the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are now recognised by the World Health Organisation as the greatest threat to mankind.

The human intestine harbours more than 1000 different species of bacteria which are essential for health. However, any changes to this natural ecosystem, through the use of antibiotics, alters the balance of healthy and potentially pathogenic bacteria.

Research has identified an increase in intestinal colonisation with multi-resistant bacteria, such as Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase’s. Although colonisation will not routinely cause harm, this could potentially increase the risk of contracting antibiotic resistant infections, particularly those associated with the urinary tract.

This project proposes to construct a colon model to evaluate if current antimicrobial prescribing policies promote resistance within the intestinal microbiota. Using treatment guidelines (parenteral and oral) for routine infections, the colon model will be challenged, to determine alterations in the microbiota population and identify potential increases in bacterial resistance.

Previous pilot studies conducted by this research group have demonstrated significant increase in intestinal microbiota resistance after the treatment of complicated urinary tract infections. These results suggest that current dosing regimens may contribute to resistance changes within the gut microflora.

In collaboration with NHS services, this project aims to investigate the changes in the intestinal microbiota prior to and after antimicrobial therapy, and to use these findings to determine the resistance changes in GI microbiota, and ensure the continued health and wellbeing of the patients.

Microbial samples will be collected from patients prior to any antimicrobial therapy. We will then use the most-current techniques from molecular biology and microbiology analyses to probe the changing nature and resistance of the GI microbiota.

This will allow us to directly address any effects thereby preventing the onset of increased resistances, resulting in a potential saving in terms of patient and healthcare costs.

Entry Requirements

  • You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in a relevant subject area
  • In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0

How to apply

Please contact Dr Sarah Fouch ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you're ready to apply, you can use our online application form and select ‘Biomedical, Biomolecular and Pharmacy’ as the subject area. Please ensure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.

Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.

Please note, to be considered for this self-funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code PHBM4800219 when applying.