6 PhD Studentships: Chemical and Biological Target Validation in Neglected Tropical Diseases

Durham University - Department of Chemistry and Department of Biosciences

Example Projects

All of the projects will involve carrying out research at the chemistry-biology interface and we are keen to recruit students who wish to develop and learn skills in this area. As part of the training program students will also have the opportunity to spend time in one of several internationally leading research laboratories in either South America or South East Asia. Example PhD projects include -

Design, synthesis and application of activity-based protein profiling agents for target discovery in Neglected Tropical Diseases 

Target identification for accelerating drug repurposing for new antileishmanials

Mining the sphingolipid biosynthetic pathway of Leishmania for novel drug targets

The design, synthesis and development of new peptide- and peptoid-based anti-parasitic agents

Probing the Leishmania sphingosine kinase, a potential drug target

Target validation of an antileishmanial compound, a repurposed antihistamine

Understanding amino acid metabolism in Trypanosomes using chemical probes

The synthesis of fluorinated Miltefosine analogs to probe drug resistance mechanisms

Structure-based drug design for the neglected tropical diseases

Further details, see here.

Closing date Apr 1st 2018.


Postdoc in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology of Protists – Czech Republic

The position is open for 3 years starting in spring 2018.  Research on diplonemid and trypanosomatid flagellates.
Applicants shall hold the PhD title and have a background in molecular biology.

More details here.

PhD Studentship, Glasgow University & Moredun Research Institute

Worms, sheep and environment: integrating ecological perspectives into anthelmintic resistance management.

Supervisory Team: Barbara Mable, Roz Laing (Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow), David Bartley (Moredun Research Institute, Edinburgh)

Funding Source: Natural Environment Research Council Industrial CASE PhD studentship. This is one of three NERC CASE studentships awarded to the Institute that will start in October 2018

Project Details: The purpose of this multidisciplinary studentship is to integrate fundamental and applied perspectives on a research problem with direct societal relevance but which also informs key questions in evolutionary ecology and parasitology. The development of resistance to chemical control measures is a key concern in human and veterinary medicine and in agricultural production systems. To increase the efficiency and effectiveness of chemical control measures in the face of resistance, adaptive management approaches have been proposed that customise intervention strategies to the biology and ecology of the particular target pathogens and their hosts. However, these would ideally consider the specific mechanisms of the control agent, genetics of resistance, rates of migration between susceptible and resistant populations, and the strength of selection imposed by the control agents, while taking into account other types of environmental variation, such as the type of pasture that hosts feed on, the community of hosts that share pastures, and how isolated hosts are from new infections. This requires integration of ecology, evolution, genetics/genomics, parasitology, veterinary science, quantitative analyses of “big data”, and mathematical modelling, which has not often been achieved.

The overall aim of this studentship is to take a multidisciplinary approach to investigate the nature and consequences of anthelmintic resistance in an important parasite of sheep, the nematode Haemonchus contortus. The project will focus on resistance to ivermectin, which is one of the key anthelmintics for controlling livestock parasites. The student will benefit from support and resources provided by a large UK-wide consortium investigating anthelmintic resistance ( The project will involve four main elements but there will be flexibility for the student to take the project in different directions: 1) using previously developed crosses between resistant and susceptible parasites to test the genetic basis of resistance; 2) examining ‘real life’ fitness (e.g. ability to establish infection, competition, mating success) and the influence of mating preferences, by genotyping the adults and progeny resulting from mixed infections; 3) testing the segregation of resistance markers in previously established lines of a free-living nematode model system (Caenorhabditis remanei) that was selected for ivermectin resistance to test whether there is a common basis of resistance and similar phenotypic consequences; and 4) using deep sequencing approaches to genotype individuals from agricultural environments that differ in resistance management practices to test predictions about expected rates of resistance evolution.

The student will spend at least 3 months per year with the Industrial CASE partner (Moredun Scientific), to receive specific training in the requirements of the animal health industry involved in the development and registration of veterinary medicines. The company has a remit to promote animal health and welfare through research and education, with a particular focus on therapeutics and vaccines.

Funding Details – Research Councils UK standard stipend (£14,764 pa + full fees)
Duration – 4 years
Who is eligible? The candidate must have been ordinarily resident in the UK throughout the 3-year period preceding the date of application for an award, not wholly or mainly for the purposes of full time education. A 2:1 (B) or equivalent is required at undergraduate level. Students who have not met this but have taken a masters-level course could be considered. We particularly welcome applications from veterinarians interested in pursuing research but candidates with parasitological, genetics or evolutionary backgrounds would also be appropriate.

How to apply – Full CV + contact details of at least 2 referees
Cover letter indicating motives and qualifications for undertaking the project.

Who to send applications to – Please initially send a CV and cover letter to Barbara Mable ( Eligible applicants will be asked to submit a formal application to the University.

Deadline: Initial shortlisting for applications received by Jan. 8 but applications will be reviewed until the position is filled.

Selected Publications by the Supervisory Team:
Kenyon, F., Hutchings, F., Morgan-Davies, C., van Dijk, J., & Bartley, D.J. (2017). Worm Control in Livestock: Bringing Science to the Field. Trends in Parasitology.33(9): 669-677. DOI:

Laing, R., Maitland, K., Lecova, L., Skuce, P.J., Tait, A. and Devaney, E. (2016). Analysis of putative resistance gene loci in UK field populations of Haemonchus contortus after six years of macrocyclic lactone use. International Journal for Parasitology 46(10): 621-630. DOI:10.1016/j.ijpara.2016.03.010

Reynolds, A. Lindstrom, J., Johnson, P.C.D. and Mable, B.K. (2016). Evolution of drug tolerant nematode populations in response to density reduction. Evolutionary Applications 9(5): 726-728. DOI: 10.1111/eva.12376

Laing, R., Bartley, D.J., Morrison, A.A., Rezansoff, A., Martinelli, A., Laing, S. T. and Gilleard, J.S. (2015). The cytochrome P450 family in the parasitic nematode Haemonchus contortus. International Journal for Parasitology 45(4): 243-251. DOI:10.1016/j.ijpara.2014.12.001

Bartley, D.J. Devin, L. Nath, M. Morrison, A.A. (2015). Selection and characterisation of monepantel resistance in three Teladorsagia circumcincta isolates International Journal for Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance 5(2): 69–76. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpddr.2015.05.001

Laing R., Kikuchi T., Martinelli A., Tsai I.J., Beech R.N., Redman E., Holroyd N., Bartley D.J., Beasley H., Britton C., Curran D., Devaney E., Gilabert A., Jackson F., Hunt M., Johnston S., Kryukov I., Li K., Morrison A.A., Reid A.J., Sargison N., Saunders G., Wasmuth J.D., Wolstenholme A., Berriman M., Gilleard J.S., Cotton J.A. (2013). The genome and transcriptome of Haemonchus contortus, a key model parasite for drug and vaccine discovery. Genome Biology 14(8):R88. DOI: 10.1186/gb-2013-14-8-r88

Johnson, P.C.D., Hadfield, J.D., L.M.I. Webster, L.M.I., Adam, A., Mable, B.K. and Keller, L,F. (2010). Bayesian paternity analysis in a parasitic nematode, Trichostrongylus tenuis. Heredity 104: 573-582. DOI: 10.1038/hdy.2009.139