Research Associate (Hobbs)

Job Description

Applications are invited for a BBSRC-funded Research Associate position in the Department of Physics & Astronomy working with Professor Jamie Hobbs. In this multidisciplinary project you will join a team applying state-of-the-art techniques of structural and molecular biology to investigate the way spores of pathogenic bacteria germinate and their subsequent outgrowth. You will be working closely with the team of molecular biologists in the School of Biosciences, headed by Prof. Per Bullough and Dr. Robert Fagan.
You will have, or be about to obtain, a PhD, with experience of using atomic force microscopy and/or other microscopy techniques to study biological systems from a biophysical perspective.
Bacteria such as those causing botulism and tetanus survive harsh conditions and spread disease as spores. However, for these spores to cause disease they must germinate into so-called vegetative cells. We wish to understand how this germination takes place and how the active vegetative cell emerges from the dormant spore. This is a remarkable metamorphosis where one intricate type of cell structure is completely transformed into a radically different structure. The process is also interesting because vegetative cells are much more vulnerable to attack, for example by antibiotics or disinfectants, than spores are. Thus, if we could work out how to 'germinate to exterminate', we could develop new weapons against a number of diseases and food-spoilage organisms. This study builds on recent advances in the application of AFM to bacteria (Pasquina Lemonche et al, Nature, 582(7811), 294 (2020)) and bacterial spores (Janganan et al, mSphere, 5, e00424-20 (2020)).
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