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Engineering Biology in Cambridge


PhD position available working in the lab of Prof. Nigel Minton at the University of Nottingham, in collaboration with FOLIUM SCIENCE. Engineering bacterial endospores for drug delivery.

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  • Deadline: 14th July 2020, 12pm

  • Stipend: £15,285

  • Location: University of Nottingham

  • Industrical Partner: FOLIUM SCIENCE

The unique properties of the bacterial endospore make it the ideal vehicle for the delivery of therapeutic agents to solid tumours, to the human or plant microbiome as well as being essential to the storage and maintenance of cultures used in large scale industrial fermentations. Accordingly, spores have a significant role to play in treatment of cancer, in countering the threat caused by antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in diseases of the human gut as well as in microbial production processes for chemicals and fuels that avoid the exploitation of environmentally damaging fossil reserves. 

The bacterial endospore is one of the most highly resistant life-forms on earth and allows the organism to survive exposure to extremes of temperature, desiccation, disinfectants and radiation. The longevity of survival is astounding and can be measured not in tens or hundreds of years but in millions. In the current project, these properties will be refined and enhanced by using Synthetic Biology to re-wire the sporulation pathway such that spores are only produced under the required conditions and at a time when they are needed.

The project will focus on the positioning of known, and as yet unknown, genes essential to sporulation under the control of inducible promoters that are reliant on inducers that will not be encountered in the targeted niche. The suitability of promoters and their inducers will be tested using appropriate reporter genes. Known genes essential to sporulation will be taken from the literature, new targets will be identified using Transposon-directed Insertion Sequencing (TraDIS).  Initial work will test the suitability of the hybrid riboswitch-based promoter developed in the SBRC, RiboLac. Alternative systems will also be investigated. 

This project will be based in the BBSRC/EPSRC Synthetic Biology Research Centre (SBRC) of the Biodiscovery Institute and will be supervised by Professor Nigel P Minton. The PhD is in collaboration with the company FOLIUM SCIENCE who are using Guided Biotics™ act to maintain healthy animals and plants, by selectively reducing unwanted bacteria, particularly pathogens, in the target microbiomes, including that of the soil.

How to apply: Applicants should be submitted via, and ask your referee to submit their reference via The deadline is 14 July 2020 and queries can be sent to

These fully-funded studentships are available to UK students and EU students who have lived in the UK for three years prior to the start of their studies. EU students who do not meet this criteria are eligible for a fees-only award.

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