PhD position at University “Picardie Jules Verne” (UPJV)

A three-year PhD position is available at the GEC Department, University "Picardie Jules Verne" (UPJV) in Amiens, France, to study the interaction of STAMPs (selective antimicrobial peptides) with biomimetic membranes in view of their use as antibiotics compatible with the gut-microbiome.

The rationale of the project
The non-specific nature of most antibiotics makes their use deleterious for the human and animal microbiome. By recognizing the different composition of bacterial membranes, a subclass of AMPs called STAMPs (selective antimicrobial peptides) can selectively kill bacterial pathogens thus reducing the impact of antibiotics on the microbiome. This thesis will be devoted to unraveling the molecular mechanisms by which STAMPs can selectively interact with specific pathogens exploiting the differences in membrane lipid compositions. It implies studying the interaction by liquid and solid state NMR and molecular dynamic simulations, among other techniques.

Methodology
In this project, various peptides with selective activity towards ESKAPE bacteria will be studied in their interaction with synthetic membranes, mimicking their lipid composition. Multiple techniques will be used (circular dichroism, fluorescence) with special emphasis on both liquid and solid state NMR and molecular dynamics (MD). Paramagnetic probes will be used to locate the peptide in the membrane and to determine its structure.

The GEC laboratory at UPJV
The GEC Department (Enzymatic and Molecular Engineering) at UPJV is dedicated to the study of the cell biochemistry in animals and plants. NMR is a key technique in the research on the metabolism, structure and dynamics of bio-molecules. The department has long experience in the preparation and the modeling of biological membranes, an important part in the development of the project. UPJV provides access to the molecular biology, electron microscopy, greenhouse and analytical platforms. In the latter, MS (LC/MS, GC/MS and MS/MS) and NMR (400, 500 and 600 MHz with auto-sampler) instruments are available. The UPJV, in conjunction with UTC (Université Technique de Compiègne), has also access to an S2 containment greenhouse, a laboratory for the manipulation of L2 biological agents, and a cell culture laboratory.

The doctoral school
The UPJV Doctoral School of Sciences, Technology and Health, created in 2000, has been accredited by the Ministry of Research and Higher Education. It brings together the 22 recognized research units in the sciences and health sectors that provide scientific supervision for the more than 200 PhD students currently enrolled. It is multidisciplinary, spanning from cancer research, aging and neuroscience to energy storage, agro-science and green chemistry.
Amiens and its surroundings
Amiens is the main town of Picardie (now part of Hauts-de-France department), a region situated just north of Paris. Its cathedral is visited by 800000 people each year and it is the tallest gothic church and the largest cathedral in France (UNESCO world heritage). The town is crossed by numerous canals, making it one of the "Venice of the north". Floating gardens (hortillonnages) are set over a course of 65 km of irrigation canals. Amiens also hosts one of the largest university hospitals in France. The University brings into town about 28000 students, animating its atmosphere. Its location, close to the north coast, Lille and Paris (Paris can be easily reached by train in about 1 hour), makes it a quiet and interesting place to live.

Eligibility
The successful candidate should have obtained a Master (or equivalent title) in the field of chemistry, biology, physics or related disciplines, be eager to learn and able to work both independently and in group. Theoretical knowledge of biochemistry, basic practical experience in laboratory and an intermediate level of English are mandatory. Experience in bioinformatics or computer programming is not required, but will be considered a plus. Other advantageous expertise includes: experience in molecular dynamic simulations and / or experience in solid-state or solution NMR.

How to apply
Interested candidate should send applications to nicola.damelio@u-picardie.fr.
- A full curriculum vitae detailing the university modules (the transcript of the courses from the first year of University to the last year of the Master and their marks), the classification obtained each year and the number of credits.
- A letter of recommendation from the head of the host team and/or the supervisor in which the student has completed his master training period.
- The names of two referees.
- A letter of motivation from the candidate clearly highlighting the competencies he/she thinks he/she has acquired to carry out the project.

Selected candidates will be called for an interview (in English or French, based on their preferences).

Useful information/dates
Deadline for application: 15/06/2022
Starting in October 2022

For further information on the project, contact:
Nicola D'Amelio: email nicola.damelio@u-picardie.fr

For further information on the doctoral school, contact:
ed-sciences-sante@u-picardie.fr