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Executive Dean’s PhD Studentship in Caesarean Section Infections: Targeting an Unmet Need with Novel Antimicrobials

The Centre for Inflammation Research and Translational Medicine is offering a fully funded PhD studentship to investigate novel therapeutic interventions to tackle caesarean section (C-section) infections. 15% of women globally who undergo a C-section delivery will experience an infection of the wound. Subsequently, mothers will experience severe pain, compromised mobility or even death. This PhD will develop novel strategies to prevent and/or treat C-section infections.

Based in and funded by the College of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (CHMLS), this studentship offers a full-time annual London rate stipend estimated at £20,551 plus Home/EU tuition fees, for a maximum of 36 months. The successful candidate will benefit from the support of Brunel Medical School which has established connections with local NHS Trusts and clinicians.


The Department of Life Sciences holds a Silver Athena SWAN Award and is committed to the advancement of gender equality in Academia.


The start date will be 1 October 2023.


Antimicrobial resistance is a major threat to modern medicine and there is an urgent need to develop novel antimicrobial therapeutic strategies. In recent work in the McCarthy and Rudolph Labs published in EMBO Molecular Medicine (and featured in BBC Science Focus Magazine), we have demonstrated that the artificial sweetener acesulfame-K (ace-K) can be used to treat wound infections. Specifically, we show that it can inhibit the growth of a broad range of pathogens including common antibiotic resistant wound pathogens Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Remarkably, ace-K can also increase the sensitivity of A. baumannii to antibiotics. In this proposal, we aim to harness the newly identified therapeutic potential of ace-K and combine it with cutting-edge wound models, transcriptomics, genome sequencing, live cell imaging and 3D printing to develop a first-of-its kind bespoke therapeutic solution to tackle the underrepresented clinical need of mothers following a C-sections.

The successful candidate will be supervised by an expert interdisciplinary team of researchers who will provide full training for the research.

For informal discussions, please contact Ronan McCarthy


Candidates should have an undergraduate degree (first or upper second class) or equivalent qualification in biosciences or a related field. A Masters qualification in a relevant area would be desirable. Applicants who have not been awarded a degree by a University in the UK will be expected to demonstrate English language skills to IELTS 7.0 (minimum 6.5 in any section).

How to apply

If you wish to apply, please e-mail the following to by 7 June 2023.

  • A current CV.
  • A single-page A4 single-spaced personal statement describing why you are a suitable candidate (i.e. outlining your qualifications and skills).
  • One example of your academic writing (e.g. an essay, a section from a dissertation).
  • A summary of your teaching experience or your willingness to support teaching activities.
  • Names and contact details for two academic referees.
  • A copy of your highest degree certificate and transcript.
  • A copy of your English language qualification, where applicable.

Shortlisted applicants are expected to attend an interview week commencing 3rd July 2023.

For further information about how to apply, please contact the CHMLS Postgraduate Programmes Office on

Meet the Supervisor(s)

Ronan Mccarthy - Ronan gained his Bachelor of Science in Genetics with first class honours from University College Cork, Ireland in 2010 and was awarded the title of College Scholar. In autumn 2010, Ronan was awarded an Irish Research Council PhD Scholarship to study novel biofilm inhibition strategies against the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the lab of Professor Fergal O’Gara. In 2014, Ronan joined the research group of Professor Alain Filloux at the MRC Centre for Bacteriology and Infection at Imperial College London. As a Postdoctoral Research Associate, Ronan interrogated the second messenger signalling cascades that govern the biofilm mode of growth in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Following on from his time at Imperial College Ronan joined the Microbiology Department at the Animal and Plant Health Agency where he used host transcriptomics and pathway analysis to profile the host response to infection. He joined the Biosciences Division in Brunel University to continue his analysis of the regulatory networks that govern pathogenicity, antimicrobial resistance and biofilm formation in the Gram negative opportunistic pathogens Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii. In 2021, Ronan was awarded a BBSRC New Investigator Award to study the regulation of desiccation tolerance and biofilm formation in Acinetobacter baumannii and to identify compounds that could disrupt these survival mechanisms. 

Christian Rudolph - Cell division is one of the most fundamental processes in biology. Thousands of proteins have to be made successfully to enable accurate duplication of the genetic information, segregate duplicated chromosomes into daughter cells and to complete cell division. Our lab aims to provide important new insights into how the genome can be duplicated with high accuracy, how damage to the genome can be recognised and repaired and what consequences arise if these processes fail. We use a range of advanced molecular cell biology and genetics techniques for traditional as well as new experimental approaches to study DNA replication and chromosome dynamics, conflicts between DNA replication and transcription, CRISPR-Cas systems and their impact on DNA replication and genome stability and how all these systems contribute to shape the overall architecture of bacterial chromosomes.

Related Research Group(s)

Inflammation Research and Translational Medicine

Inflammation Research and Translational Medicine - Driving scientific innovation and discovery for diagnosis, treatment, and management of cardiovascular disease, inflammatory and immune disorders, microbial resistance, and cancer.