KESS 2 PhD in Medicine: Developing point of care biomarker and molecular diagnostic assays for bacterial pathogens based on Magneto-optics
School of Medicine, Cardiff University
Project ID: CUK265
Annual Stipend: Stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum
Application Deadline: 31 May 2018
Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships 2 (KESS2) is a pan-Wales higher-level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the Higher Education sector in Wales. It is part-funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) West Wales and the Valleys programme, by partners from the West Wales and the Valleys areas of Wales, and by Cardiff University.
Currently detection of bacterial infections relies on the growth of bacteria on different selective medium, or extraction of nucleic acids followed by various molecular amplification methodologies. The former method is lengthy and often lacks specificity without supplementation of microscopic staining and evaluation, while the latter never provides antibiotic sensitivity data and requires transport to a central hub to process using expensive specialist equipment.
This PhD project aims to develop magneto-optical technology with an industrial partner to detect pathogenic bacterial species. This technology also has the advantage that it can be reduced to a hand-held device that can run assays with inexpensive consumables.
The major academic challenge for this project is that detection of whole bacterial cells by nano-rods (the functional micro-detector in this technology) overlap in physical size, and whole bacterial cell detection is theoretical. Furthermore, the ability to maintain multiple channels (three different sizes of nano-rods can be simultaneously measured) may be compromised.
As this technology has been proven to be able to detect proteins, a parallel development of bacterial DNA detection by nano-rods will also be investigated. The advantages of direct bacterial detection is that it could give results in 10-15 minutes, which would be consistent with the hallmark requirement for point-of-care diagnostics. While the molecular detection of bacterial DNA species will take longer than direct detection, magneto-optical technology still has the advantage (over existing molecular detection systems) of less complex, less expensive analysis equipment and has the potential to be reduced to a small footprint.
To be eligible, the successful candidate will need to be resident in the convergence area of Wales (West Wales and the Valleys) on registration, and must have the right to work in the region on qualification.
Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.