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Postgraduate Post. University College Cork

10 jun 2015 - 12:55 CET

Postgraduate Position Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC), University College Cork

Unique ref no H5 – Molecular Characterisation of a Conjugative Bifidobacterium Megaplasmid encoding Potential Novel Mediators of Microbe-Host Dialogue.

Candidates for a PhD position are currently being sought to work on the Molecular Characterisation of a novel Conjugative Bifidobacterium Megaplasmid. The cell envelope of gut commensals represents a critical structural interface between bacteria and the environment and harbours proteins and carbohydrates that facilitate bacterial attachment, colonisation and microbe-host crosstalk. The successful candidate will focus on the recently identified conjugative Bifidobacterium breve megaplasmid pMP7017, and using various approaches characterise a number of cell wall associated proteins that potentially enhance the health promoting attributes of strains harbouring this megaplasmid. In addition, the novel conjugation mechanism of pMP7017 will be exploited for the introduction of this megaplasmid to human derived and commercially relevant Bifidobacterium species in a food grade manner. This work is an expansion of ongoing research at the APC and School of Microbiology on the identification and characterization of molecular players involved in Bifidobacterium-host interactions through comparative and functional genomics as described in Appl Environ Microbiol. 81(1):166-76, BMC Genomics. 2014 1;15:170, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jul 5;108(27 ):11217-22; The successful candidate will work within the Bifidobacterial Functional Genomics laboratory of the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC:;) and School of Microbiology.

An applicant is sought with documented qualifications covering

  • Applicants should have or expect to attain a first or upper second class honours degree in the Life Sciences, genetics, biochemistry, biotechnology or microbiology, or related discipline. Some experience in Microbiology and molecular biology would be desirable.
  • Fluency in English and excellent communication skills.
  • Ability to engage in teamwork within the research group and our collaborators

To Apply: Applications (as a single PDF) should include a covering letter, a detailed CV and the names and contact details of 2 referees and quoting the Unique reference no. H5 should be sent by email to: Dr Mary O’Connell Motherway ( or Prof Douwe van Sinderen ( University College Cork is an Equal Opportunities Employer Closing date for receipt of Applications: June 19th 2015

The Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre

The Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC) was formed in 2003 with funding from Science Foundation Ireland and in conjunction with key industry partners. It represents a seamless collaboration between UCC, Teagasc, Moorepark and CIT. It is widely recognised that the gut microbiota plays an important role in human health and has become one of the most dynamic, complex and exciting areas of research in both food and pharmaceutical arenas. Over the last decade the APC has established itself as one of the leading global centres in gut microbiota research. The APC has made several landmark discoveries and has published over 1000 research articles in peer-reviewed journals, generating many journal covers and associated editorials. The APC comprises over 150 individuals, from the scientific PI’s (the APC Faculty) funded by the partner Institutions, the management team, and a dedicated group of research scientists, research assistants and postgraduates students. The APC has been successful in securing funding from Science Foundation Ireland and its industry partners for the next phase of the APC Research Centre. The specific SFI-funded PhD position advertised here is located at UCC and is available to successful candidates who meet residency requirements in Ireland or the EU. The studentship comprises an annual stipend for four years, in addition to fees at the EU level (approximately €6,000 per year). The current stipend is €18,000 per annum.

PhD position:
All PhD students will be registered students in UCC, initially for an MSc, and can progress, pending successful review by a thesis committee, to a PhD.

Key Duties and Responsibilities

  • To conduct a specified programme of research under the supervision and direction of a Principal Investigator.
  • To engage in appropriate training and professional development opportunities as required by the Principal Investigator / Department in order to develop research skills and competencies.
  • Interact with Research Assistants and other cognate staff as required to advance the research.
  • To engage in the dissemination of the results of the research (oral and written) in which you are engaged, as directed by, with the support of and under the supervision of a Principal Investigator.
  • To work with project partners and other collaborators in achieving the research goals.
  • To contribute and produce high quality peer reviewed publications.
  • To present research outcomes as project meetings and at relevant conferences.
  • To engage in the wider research and scholarly activities of the research group, School or College.


  • An upper second class or first class honours BSc degree and/or a MSc degree in Microbiology, Biochemistry or cognate discipline (see further below)
  • Experience in the fields as described hereunder
  • Highly motivated individual with a keen interest in human research and working with animal models
  • Experience in general microbiology, molecular microbiology and general molecular biology
  • Have excellent laboratory skills, organizational and communication skills, report writing and data analysis
  • An ability to work independently to a tight schedule
  • Have the ability to work effectively as part of a team to achieve results
Postgraduate Post. University College Cork - 1

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