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Current studentships

360° Characterisation of the lipid transport machinery operating at the host-pathogen interface of the apicomplexan parasites.

  • Deadline: 14/04/2020 5:00PM
  • Studentship code: RDS
  • Staff name: Dr John Mina
  • Research centre: BioSciences
  • Start date: Successful applicants will be expected to start on 5 October 2020 but consideration will also be given for applicants starting on 7 December 2020.

Protozoan parasites are amongst the most pressing concerns on the global health agenda, for both humans and animals. A portfolio of new anti-parasitic drugs is required to tackle protozoan diseases because: (i) there is currently a lack of effective chemotherapeutics; (ii) available treatments exhibit toxicity and mutagenicity; and (iii) resistance to available drugs is evolving and becoming widespread.

Protozoal metabolism is a crucial target for anti-parasitic drugs, therefore understanding this is fundamental to the global health agenda. Parasite lipid metabolism is a potential drug target, both endogenous (de-novo synthesized) and host scavenged lipids. Therefore, the lipid exchange machinery operating at the host-pathogen interface represents a promising drug target. However, this remains elusive. The research project will apply cutting edge chemical parasitology and mass spectrometry-based ‘omics approaches to identify and characterise the proteins involved in this lipid exchange process. The focus will be on Toxoplasma and Sarcocystis, human and animal pathogens belonging to the Apicomplexa, a phylum including Plasmodium falciparum - the causative agent of severe malaria. While toxoplasmosis and sarcocystosis are usually asymptomatic in healthy individuals, they can cause significant problems in immunocompromised patients. Moreover, toxoplasmosis is implicated in several neurological and psychological disorders, spontaneous abortion and, in addition, damage to the optic nerve in new-borns. Currently there are no treatments for chronic toxoplasmosis.

This project will provide insight into the lipid exchange mechanism at the host-pathogen interface through comparative studies in Toxoplasma and Sarcocystis, yielding valuable information that will guide future efforts to identify new drug targets.

Applicants should use the links provided in each topic or project area to the Research Centres and Research Groups identified, or to the named supervisors for each project, to ensure that their application and proposal fits with the research interests and topics defined in the studentships offered.

Funding eligibility

The studentship will cover tuition fees and provide an annual tax-free stipend of £15,000 for three years, subject to satisfactory progress. Applications are welcome from strong UK, EU and International students.

Entry requirements

Applicants should hold or expect to obtain a good honours degree (2:1 or above) and/or Masters level qualification in a relevant discipline, as well as a demonstrable understanding of the area; further details of the expected background may appear in the specific project details. International students would be subject to the standard entry criteria relating to English language ability, ATAS clearance and, when relevant, Tier 4 procedures.

How to apply

Applicants should apply online for this opportunity. Please use the PhD full time online application form. When asked to specify funding select “other” and enter ‘RDS’ and the title of the PhD project that you are applying for. You should ensure that you clearly indicate that you are applying for an RDS Studentship and the title of the topic or project on the proposal that you will need to upload when applying. If you would like to apply for more than one project, you will need to complete a further application form and specify the relevant title for each application to a topic or project.

Applications for funded studentships that do not clearly indicate that the application is for an RDS Studentship and state the title of the project applied for on the proposal may mean that you your application may not be considered for the appropriate funding.

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About Teesside

As a Teesside University research student, you will join a growing and dynamic research community, allowing you to share your experiences, insight and inspiration with fellow researchers. You will benefit from our academic expertise, and be supported through a strong programme of research training. You will be offered opportunities and support at each stage of your research degree. Our research is designed to have impact, and to influence policy and practice within our region, the UK and beyond. We work with external organisations to anticipate and respond to research needs, and to put our research into practice in sectors as diverse as the arts, engineering, healthcare and computing. PhD students are encouraged to work with their supervisors to explore the potential impact of their work.

The successful candidate will be expected to participate fully in research group and centre activities, including training sessions and workshops, and will become a member of the University’s wider postgraduate research community. Mentoring and support will be provided for the development of a strong academic and professional CV during the PhD.

Academic enquiries

For academic enquiries, please contact For administrative enquiries about your application, contact Post application, please contact

Key dates

  • Deadline: 14/04/2020 5:00PM
  • Interview date: We envisage that interviews will take place in May and June 2020.
  • Start date: Successful applicants will be expected to start on 5 October 2020 but consideration will also be given for applicants starting on 7 December 2020.