MRC AIM Doctoral Training Partnership

Closing Date
Sunday, 9th January 2022

The AIM (Advanced Inter-Disciplinary Models) DTP is funded by the Medical Research Council between three Partners – the Universities of Birmingham, Leicester and Nottingham – and three more Associate Partners – the Research Complex at Harwell, Mary Lyon Centre and Rosalind Franklin Institute. We have a range of exciting and diverse PhD 4-year projects at all 3 Institutions which are now open for a September 2022 start and those available at The University of Nottingham are detailed below.

Application deadline: The deadline for submitting applications is Sunday 9 January 2022. Please ensure that your application is submitted with all required documentation as incomplete applications will not be considered.

Interviews: Interviews will take place Tuesday 1, Thursday 3 and Friday 4 March 2022 and will be held via Zoom.  You will need to ensure that you are available on these days for interview if you are shortlisted.

Academic requirement: Minimum qualifications and experience to undertake a research degree are detailed in the QAA UK Quality Code for Higher Education. For some subject areas, there is also an expectation that an individual will have undertaken a Masters qualification before beginning a doctoral programme. Candidates should possess the relevant qualifications and/or experience to demonstrate a capability to undertake a doctorate, which will be assessed during the recruitment process.  More details can be found on the MRC website.

Applicant Q&A session: The DTP Leads are holding an information / Q&A session for prospective candidates interested in applying to the DTP on Thursday 9 December 10:00 – 11:00 GMT via Zoom.  If you are thinking of submitting an application(s) to the DTP, you are invited and encouraged to attend the session.  Please register for the event by clicking on the link here before 16:00 GMT on Wednesday 8 December.

How to apply: Please complete the AIM application form one and application form two as well as the AIM equal opportunities form. These can be downloaded at . You will need to ensure that your referees complete the AIM referee form and submit this to in support of your application.

Completed applications to be submitted to before the deadline of Sunday 9 January 2022.

Due to stipulations from the funders, recruitment for international candidates to the DTP is capped at 30% of the whole cohort.

Projects open for application in the School of Pharmacy:

3D printing in vitro models to understand the impact of the bacterial biofilm/host environment on the effectiveness of antimicrobials in cystic fibrosis

Professor Felicity Rose, Professor Miguel Camara, Professor Ricky Wildman and Dr Helen Barr.   In collaboration with Dr Joao Correia

Chronic lung infections are a feature of cystic fibrosis, a progressive genetic disease that ultimately limits the ability of affected individuals to breathe over time. Antimicrobial resistance continues to challenge effective treatments for these patients. There is therefore an urgent clinical need for relevant 3D models of infection in cystic fibrosis to improve our understanding of the fundamental biology of infection and to develop more effective treatment strategies. This interdisciplinary research project will allow you to develop skills across the disciplines whilst providing a unique opportunity to understand the clinical and personal challenges associated with treating and living infections associated with cystic fibrosis. Working in world leading laboratory facilities with the leading experts in biofilms, infection, 3D printing, in vitro models and in the treatment of cystic fibrosis infections, you will develop skills in microbiology, mammalian cell culture and will learn state-of-the-art techniques in 3D bioprinting. In addition, you will develop skills in biochemical assays and in light microscopy including in the most advanced imaging techniques. This project is an exciting opportunity to generate insights in chronic infection which will have significant clinical impact in the longer term for those living with this life-limiting disease.

Detecting, understanding and targeting disrupted glycan accumulation in mucopolysaccharidoses patients

Assistant Professor Andrew Hook, Professor Cathy Merry and Dr Liang Wu (Rosalind Franklin Institute)

Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS) is a disorder that prevents the breakdown of polysaccharides, leading to their accumulation. This condition causes progressive developmental problems after birth that results in premature death. Collectively MPS is observed in about 1 in 30,000 births. There is currently no cure and the efficacy of existing treatments is impaired by delayed diagnosis and insensitive monitoring.

An analytical method called time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) has recently been used to analyse polysaccharides, demonstrating orders of magnitude greater sensitivity than existing methods. In this project, ToF-SIMS will be investigated for its ability to enable early diagnosis of MPS by analysing patient urine and blood samples and as a tool to aid in the development of new MPS therapies.

Further, advanced cell culture methods and novel protein labelling approaches will be used to enable detailed assessment of how different enzymes associated with MPS interact to identify new targets for the development of novel therapies This project brings together multiple disciplines including analytical science, matrix biology, machine learning and cell culture. It has been designed to provide a well-structured interdisciplinary training programme, linking up with patient support groups and an industrial partner to support the career development of a highly-skilled researcher.