Job offer in england Hospital sink microbiomes and their contribution to the spread of carbapenemase-producing members of the Enterobacteriaceae at University of Surrey

Supervisor name:

Dr Jennifer Ritchie          

Dr Emma Laing

Funding: Directly Funded Project (European/UK Students only)

This funded 4-year Industrial CASE studentship offers an exciting opportunity to develop skills in both microbiology techniques and computational sequence-based analyses while addressing an important public health problem.

The rise of antimicrobial resistance has re-focused interest on hospital cleanliness and the spread of hospital-acquired infections. Several reports have implicated hospital hand wash sinks and drains as a potential reservoir for resistant organisms, including carbapenemase-producing members of the Enterobactericeae (CPE), one of the World Health Organisation’s listed priority pathogens that pose the greatest threat to human health (

The studentship will examine the microbiome of hospital sink drains and assess the impact of decontamination procedures on the potential transfer, and spread of CPE. The industrial partner in this project is Public Health England. You will be based at the University of Surrey, Guildford as part of a small vibrant research community studying antimicrobial resistance in real life complex microbial communities.

The project will be based in the Ritchie laboratory located in the School of Biosciences and Medicine, which was recently ranked as 6th for Biosciences in the Guardian 2018 league tables. The Ritchie laboratory is interested in studying the biology and transmission of enteric pathogens, including resistant populations. You will interact with others in the group who are working on developing novel methodologies to study antimicrobial resistance gene transfer, and studying reservoirs and factors that affect transmission.

The project will focus on two main aspects, i) genotypic and phenotypic characterisation of the microbiome of hospital-supplied waste-traps to increase knowledge of their composition and attributes and ii) use of a laboratory-based sink-drain model system to assess the impact of short- and long-term decontamination strategies on the integrity of waste-trap biofilm communities and the spread of resistance. 

The successful candidate will be trained in a combination of microbiological and computational skills. These will include bacterial characterisation and identification techniques including MALDI-TOF, basic molecular techniques, resistance gene profiling, applied chemical techniques that are used to monitor water quality during infection control, as well as training in bioinformatics and the statistical methods necessary to analyse high-throughput sequencing data.


We are looking for a well-qualified, self-motivated individual with interests in both ‘wet bench’ microbiology and ‘dry bench’ computational sequence-based analyses to drive this project forward. The position will involve spending 2-5 months over the duration of the project at Public Health England, located in Porton Down.

Applicants must have, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper second class Honours degree in microbiology, biomedical sciences, natural sciences or related disciplines.

Self-motivation, a passion for research, fluency in English language, and good oral and written communication skills are essential.

An MSc in Biomedical Sciences with added bioinformatics/computational biology experience or a desire to undertake training in these areas is preferred, but not essential.

Enquiries and to apply: Contact Dr Jennifer Ritchie ( 01483 686484

This is a 4-year Industrial CASE studentship based at the University of Surrey and jointly funded by MRC and Public Health England. The successful candidate must be able to start on 1st October 2017.


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