Primary Supervisor: Dr Rebecca Hall (University of Kent)
Second Supervisor: Prof. Paul Skipp (University of Southampton)
Candida albicans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that forms part of the natural flora of the oral, genital and gastrointestinal tracts of healthy individuals. However, changes in the host’s environment, activate adaptation responses in the fungus that enable the fungus to switch from commensal growth to a more pathogenic state. One of these adaptation events is the structural remodelling of the fungal cell wall. As the cell wall is the first point of contact between the invading pathogen and innate immune system, modification of its structure affects the host-pathogen interaction, enabling the fungus to either evade the immune system, or to hyperactivate pro-inflammatory immune responses and induce host damage. However, the host environmental signals and fungal signalling cascades that control cell wall adaptation are largely unknown.
During your PhD you will determine which host environmental signals drive fungal pathogenicity through modulation of the fungal cell wall and you will elucidate the novel fungal signalling pathways that mediate this adaptation. To achieve these aims you will use a combination of global transcriptional analysis (i.e. RNA Seq), proteomics, fungal genetics, cell biology, biochemistry and immunological techniques. You will receive a combination of in-house training as well as attending appropriate external training courses to equip you with the skills you require for a successful PhD and future scientific career.