PhD studentship, Belfast, Ireland

PhD Studentship in host-parasite interactions available at Queen's University Belfast

Characterisation of the autophagic response in pathogen-infected honeybees.  


  • Dr James Murray (CCRCB, School of Medicine, Dentistry & BMS), 
  • Prof. Robert Paxton 
  • Dr Sheena Cotter (EEBEE, Biological Sciences) 

Autophagy is a primordial cell survival pathway, essential for all eukaryotic organisms. In disease, autophagy is dysregulated during neurodegeneration, cancer and pathogenic infections. Our laboratory studies the fundamental signalling mechanisms that control autophagy initiation in multicellular eukaryotes. Honeybee pathogens, e.g. deformed wing virus and Nosema ceranae, pose severe threats to colony survival and contribute to the declining numbers of honeybees. Pathogenic infection may subvert the autophagic pathway within bee cells for survival. Therefore, we propose that autophagy modulation in infected honeybees may allow elimination of these pathogenic infections. The studentship will focus on a molecular analysis of autophagy in established honeybee cell lines and generation of honeybee cell lines genetically altered in their autophagic response. The response of these cell lines to isolated pathogens will then be assessed and known chemical modulators of autophagy will be tested for their ability to mitigate cellular infections.  

This studentship will be the first study of autophagy in an insect pollinator species and may lead to the identification of a novel means of eliminating pathogenic infections in honeybees. 

This is a DEL-funded strategic priority studentship that will be jointly supervised by researchers in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences) and the Evolution, Ecology, Behaviour and Environmental Economics research cluster (School of Biological Sciences) at Queen's University Belfast.


Full funding is available for UK students only, EU studensts would qualify for fees-only funding, candidates from outside the EU are ineligible for this funding. This studentship is suitable for any student with, or expected to obtain, a 2:1 or above in a biomedical or biological sciences-related discipline.  

Informal enquiries to Dr James Murray, Tel: 028 9097 2180, Email:

Application is via the QUB portal:

Closing Date: February 18th 2011