Inhibiting bacterial cell division by controlling the essential FtsZ/SepH protein-protein interaction


Antibiotic-resistant pathogens are a huge threat in healthcare.

The last resorts of conventional antibiotic drugs are unable to treat multi-resistant strains in patients. New approaches towards antibiotics are desperately needed.
To spread and survive, bacteria need to divide. Thus, bacterial cell division has emerged as a promising antibiotic target pathway to combat multi-resistant pathogens.

This project aims to target a protein-protein interactions that pathogenic bacteria, like the causative agent of TB, Mycobacterium tuberculosis require to propagate. Using Mycobacteria smegmatis as a harmless model organisms for M. tuberculosis, the project will design, synthesise and test compounds which specifically prevent the formation of this essential protein-protein interaction to inhibit cell division.

This chemical biology and microbiology project will be interdisciplinary, involving training in the computational design and synthesis of peptides and small molecules, the analysis of compounds binding to proteins and their activity in bacterial cells.

Led by Dr Andrew Beekman and Dr Susan Schlimpert, there is an opportunity to learn medicinal chemistry, protein biophysics, bacterial cell biology and molecular microbiology.

The project will be based in the School of Pharmacy, University of East Anglia and the Department of Molecular Microbiology, John Innes Centre, a world-leading institute for plant and microbial research.

The student will have access to cutting-edge research facilities for bacterial genetics, live cell imaging and protein biochemistry, a vibrant graduate student community and a stimulating research environment.

Through the project and the range of training opportunities available at the institute the student will obtain excellent technical and transferable skills that are highly relevant for working in academia or industry.

You will have, or expect to obtain a first class, 2(i) or equivalent Honours degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Pharmacy or related area.

Informal enquiries are welcomed: Dr Andrew Beekman ( or Dr Susan Schlimpert (


eLife 2021,10, e63387 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.63387