Project code



School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

Start dates

February and October

Application deadline

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded PhD to commence in October 2020 or February 2021.

The PhD will be based in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, and will be supervised by Dr Anthony Lewis.

Fungal pathogens are a significant threat to human health and global food security. It is estimated that human fungal infections kill more people every year than tuberculosis and malaria combined, while plant fungal diseases have a devastating socio-economic effect 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 and agricultural infections is declining due to evolving fungal resistance, and new targets for future anti-microbial strategies are required. Emerging evidence indicates that plasma membrane potassium channels, named TOK, could be 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 nature of TOK channels makes them ideal targets for future fungicidal compounds. However, little is known about the expression, function, regulation and pharmacology of TOK channels in plant pathogenic fungi. The purpose of this research project will be to characterise the TOK ion channel protein and its role in cell physiology and virulence of pathogenic fungi.

It is expected that this project will help to further our understanding of microbial cation homeostasis, which is key to microbial cell viability and will ultimately provide the platform for the design and direct validation of compounds targeting TOK channel proteins providing a unique strategy to combat and reduce the prevalence of human and agricultural fungal infections.

The student will be trained in a wide range of laboratory techniques including microbiology, electrophysiology, molecular biology, genetics and microscopy, housed within our dedicated Ion Channel Research Laboratory.

In addition, students will have access to a vast number of training resources available at 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.

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

Entry Requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper 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.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Biomedical Sciences PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure 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.