The Bloomsbury Colleges | PhD Studentships | Studentships 2011 | Role of gastrointestinal microbiota in the development of Escherichia coli K1 neonatal meningitis
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Role Of The Gastrointestinal Microbiota In The Development Of Escherichia Coli K1 Neonatal Meningitis

This studentship is now closed.

Lead Supervisor: Peter W. Taylor (SoP)

Co-Supervisor: Brendan W. Wren (LSHTM)

Neonatal bacterial meningitis is a potentially lethal infection that occurs following acquisition at birth of pathogens from the mother's bacterial flora. A particularly severe form is caused by Escherichia coli strains producing the K1 capsular protective layer; this polymer protects the bacteria from the newborn infant's natural defence mechanisms. Maternally-acquired K1 initially colonises the infant's gastrointestinal (GI) tract before translocating into the blood compartment and on towards the central nervous system. The project will involve the study of the early stages of colonisation in a model of K1 infection that mimics many of the features of the human disease. The central question to be answered is: how are K1 bacteria able to cross the gut wall in the colonised infant but cause no harm in K1colonised adults? The project will involve an examination of the role of the normal bacterial GI tract population in the colonisation process using state-of-the-art metagenomic methods and the transcriptomic response of the neonatal gut tissue to colonisation by K1 bacteria. A better understanding of this process will provide a framework for interrupting the transmission of the neonatal pathogen from mother to infant and the latter part of the project will examine the capacity of K1-specific bacteriophage to remove the K1 population from the GI tract.

A first class or upper second class degree in a biological discipline such as microbiology or biochemistry is essential. The project will involve training in microbiological and molecular biological techniques as applied to the investigation of microbial pathogenesis. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work in a stimulating, supportive environment in research intensive laboratories.

Key References:

  1. Mushtaq N, Redpath MB, Luzio JP & Taylor PW (2004) Antimicrob Agents Chemother 48:1503-1508.
  2. Zelmer A, Bowen M, Jokilammi A, Finne J, Luzio JP & Taylor PW (2008) Microbiology 154:2522-2532.
  3. Zelmer A, Martin MJ, Gundogdu O, Birchenough G, Lever R, Wren BW, Luzio JP & Taylor PW (2010) Microbiology 156:2205-2215.

Further details about the project may be obtained from:

Lead Supervisor: Peter Taylor,,

Co-Supervisor: Brendan Wren,

Further information about PhDs at School of Pharmacy is available from:

Application forms and details about how to apply are available from:

School of Pharmacy, University of London
29-39 Brunswick Square
London WC1N 1AX
Tel: +44 20 7753 5831

School PhD Administrator: Mr Lauren O’Brien,;  Tel +44 20 7753 5800

Please include with the application form:

  • Curriculum Vitae

When applying, please indicate where you found out about this studentship (please state the publication title/ web address).

Closing date for applications: This studentship is now closed.