University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


PhD studentship in Molecular Microbiology

A BBSRC-funded Targeted PhD studentship (for uptake in October 2017) is available in the laboratory of Dr Martin Welch (Department of Biochemistry, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge). The project will investigate the role of an acetate-inducible denitrification pathway in the opportunistic human pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Recent RNA-Seq analyses carried out in the lab have revealed that when grown on acetate as a sole carbon source, gene products comprising the Nar/Nir/Nos/Nor denitrification pathways are among the most highly up-regulated transcripts in the cell. This was a surprising observation because transcripts encoding the known regulators of denitrification in P. aeruginosa (Anr and Dnr) were not modulated at all, suggesting that in these conditions, denitrification is controlled by some other mechanism(s). The practical relevance of this is that (i) fatty acids and other acetate-producing substrates are now known to be the preferred energy source for P. aeruginosa during many infection scenarios, and (ii) denitrification is critically-important in industry for microaerobic bacterial growth. Therefore, the key question and the main aim of this project, is to understand why P. aeruginosa turns on the denitrification pathways during growth on acetate, and what regulates this. The successful candidate will investigate this problem using a combined biochemical, genetic and systems-based approach which should provide a rich and varied training opportunity.

The successful applicant will join our Departmental PhD programme and must complete their studies within 4 years. Full funding (covering maintenance, fees and laboratory consumables) is available for UK citizens or EEA students who meet UK residency requirements. In addition to a programme of work in the MW lab, the appointed student will participate in DTP training courses, two 10-week rotation projects (one of which will be based in the MW lab) and a three month internship (PIPS), as well as other DTP-related events.

In the first instance, interested candidates should contact Dr Martin Welch ( with a CV, list of academic referees and a cover letter. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview in Cambridge.

Please quote reference PH11425 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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