Postgraduate research opportunities

Development of a light treatment device for cutaneous leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is a serious health threat. We have preliminary data to show that light can have anti-leishmanial activity and the aim of this project is to design a medicinal device that can be used to treat cutaneous leishmaniasis.

Number of places



13 November 2020


36 months


2:1 Honours degree or overseas equivalent

UKRI Studentship Eligibility

The eligibility criteria for UKRI funding has changed for studentships commencing in the 2021/22 academic year. Now, all home and international students are eligible to apply for UKRI funding which will cover the full stipend and tuition fees at the home rate (not the international rate). Under the new criteria, UKRI have stipulated a maximum percentage of international students that can be recruited each year against individual training grants. This will be managed at the institutional level for all EPSRC DTP and ICASE grants. For EPSRC CDT grants, this will be managed by the individual CDT administrative/management team. For ESRC and AHRC studentships the final funding decision will be made by the respective grant holder.


To be classed as a home student, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter.


The residency requirements are based on the Education (Fees and Awards) (England) Regulations 2007 and subsequent amendments. Normally to be eligible for a full award a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship (with some further constraint regarding residence for education).

If a student does not meet the criteria above, they will be classed as an international student. The international portion of the tuition fee cannot be funded by the UKRI grant and must be covered from other sources. International students are permitted to self-fund the difference between the home and international fee rates.

Project Details

A student would develop a medicinal device as a prototype for treatment of CL in this project.  It would have to cope with skin surfaces with different topographies and have a capacity to be charged using solar power.  The device would then be tested for efficacy against the intra-macrophage amastigote stage using cells infected with luciferase-expressing L. major or L. mexicana, two species that cause CL in humans. This will allow the effect of light treatment on parasite survival to be assessed using IVIS imaging. The device will also be tested for its ability to inhibit lesion growth in a murine model of cutaneous leishmaniasis. The student on this project would be trained in a number of techniques including culture of parasites, use of IVIS imaging equipment, in vivo animal experiments, assessment of parasite burdens, analysis and presentation of data.  Dr K. C. Carter will supervise Leishmania studies and has the ethical approval required for experiments.  Dr M. Maclean will provide expertise on phototherapy, and Professor Gourlay will supervise development of the medicinal device.             The ultimate aim of this project is to develop a medicinal device that could be used to treat CL.  This would have to be cheap to manufacture and can be used without requiring an external power source. The device is aimed at individuals in CL endemic areas, and if effective it would improve their quality of life as medicines in many endemic areas are expensive, difficult to assess and often cause adverse effects in the patient. Therefore, development of a novel treatment would be very beneficial.

Funding Details

Applicant will need to self-fund, find sponsorship for tuition and bench fees for duration of studies


Primary Supervisor: Dr K. C Carter




Secondary Supervisor: Dr M. MacLean



Further information

1. Sundar S, Singh A. (2016) Recent developments and future prospects in the treatment of visceral leishmaniasis. Ther Adv Infect Dis. 3:98-109.

2. Singh OP, Singh B, Chakravarty J, Sundar S. (2016) Current challenges in treatment options for visceral leishmaniasis in India: a public health perspective. Infect Dis Poverty. 5:19.

3. Maclean M, Anderson JG, MacGregor SJ, White T, Atreya CD. (2016) A New Proof of Concept in Bacterial Reduction: Antimicrobial Action of Violet-Blue Light (405 nm) in Ex Vivo Stored plasma. Blood Transfus. 2016:2920514.

Contact us

Primary Supervisor: Dr K. C Carter