Applications are invited for a PhD Studentship to undertake research into ‘the history of antibiotics, antibiotic resistance and infection control in Scottish hospitals c. 1930-1970’. The Studentship is funded by the Leverhulme Trust for three years beginning 1 October 2013. It will be based at the University of Glasgow in the Centre for the History of Medicine and supervised by Professor Marguerite Dupree and Professor Malcolm Nicolson.
The Studentship also forms part of a three-year research project on the history of hospital infection control, ‘From microbes to matrons: infection control in British hospitals 1870-1970’, funded by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust, under the joint direction of Professor Anne Marie Rafferty of King's College London and Professor Dupree. The overall project uses case studies of four hospitals with which Joseph Lister and Florence Nightingale were involved (St Thomas' and King's College Hospital in London and the Glasgow and Edinburgh Royal Infirmaries in Scotland), to investigate the history of hospital infection control in Britain over a particularly significant hundred-year period. The holder of the PhD Studentship will be a member of the project team including Professors Rafferty and Dupree, and two research assistants - one based at King’s College London and the other at the University of Glasgow - and will be expected to attend workshops and conferences associated with the project.
It is envisaged that the successful applicant will undertake a stand-alone piece of research exploring the history of infection control in hospitals and how this has changed in response to antibiotics and the early years of antibiotic resistance, 1930-1970. The research will examine the role of the microbiologist beyond the laboratory, in developing hospital infection control measures and serving on infection control committees, as well as the shifting boundaries of the roles of the clinical staff and the matron and nursing staff. The research will involve a literature review regarding the introduction of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance to complement the literature review for the overall project, as well as archival research in Glasgow and Edinburgh, focusing on the Glasgow and Edinburgh Royal Infirmaries as case studies. It is expected that the holder of the Studentship will undertake a series of oral history interviews with nurses (including matrons), medical staff; and hospital infection control officers or policy makers in Glasgow and Edinburgh, which will be complementary to similar interviews undertaken by the research assistant in London.
The hospital environment is closely linked to antibiotic resistance, and hospital-acquired infections such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are obvious examples of the problem of antibiotic resistance. Resistance to methicillin was detected as early as 1961, just one year after the introduction of the antibiotic. But the nature of MRSA infection in hospitals has changed over the years. The development of resistance to antibiotics led in turn to the development of new antibiotics, and the student might investigate the impact of antibiotic resistance on the development of new antibiotics and changes in antibiotic prescribing. For example, one of the first randomised clinical trials was used to test the efficiency of different antibiotics in the treatment of tuberculosis, while new antibiotics, such as methicillin, were specifically designed to be insensitive to the beta-lactamase enzymes that rendered resistance to penicillin.
The PhD student will be based in the Centre for the History of Medicine at Glasgow University, and part of a community of research students in the history of medicine and in history and economic and social history more generally, as well as part of the project team. Training in oral history and other research skills is readily available.
Eligibility and details of the award
Applicants normally should be Home/EU and normally have a good undergraduate degree in history (with preference given to those who have completed an undergraduate dissertation) or have or be studying for a masters’ degree in history, medical history, economic and social history, or a related field. Some background in biological sciences, social sciences, archival research or oral history would be an advantage.
The Studentship is for full-time study for a maximum of three years. The student will be expected to attend an induction week, beginning 16 September 2013. The Studentship will provide:
an annual maintenance grant (paid monthly) equivalent to the Research Councils UK rate (currently £13,726)
tuition fees at the standard Home/EU rate (currently £3,900)
support for research-related travel and subsistence, and a laptop computer
How to apply
Applicants must first submit a complete application for admission to the PhD programme in Economic and Social History (history of medicine) within the College of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow. Details of how to do this can be found at http://www.gla.ac.uk/research/opportunities/howtoapplyforaresearchdegree/. Immediately after submitting the application, the applicant should send an email to email@example.com/ by 5pm on Friday 23 August 2013 stating that they wish to be considered for the scholarship. This email should include as attachments:
- copies of all documents which have been submitted as part of the PhD application, including the two references. If you have not submitted the two references yourself, but have asked your referees to email them to the Graduate School directly, you should ask them also to email copies to Professor Dupree by the deadline.
- a personal statement (c.500 words) outlining why your skills to date equip you for this research and what interests you in this topic (this statement may serve as the ‘research proposal’ for the University PhD application)
- a CV
- a writing sample. The sample should be a piece of assessed work from your studies to date, on any topic, and preferably in the region of 2,500-5,000 words long, or an undergraduate or masters’ dissertation.
Short-listed candidates are likely to be called for interview late in the week beginning August 26 or early in the week beginning 2 September.
For further details and an informal discussion about this opportunity, please contact Professor Marguerite Dupree,firstname.lastname@example.org/
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