Disputas - Master of science Philip Rainsford

Disputas - Philip Rainsford

Master of science Philip rainsford will on june 2nd at 09.15 publically defend his PhD degree in science.

Title of the PhD thesis:

"Expanding the toolbox for the study of antimicrobial peptides"


There is an urgent lack of new antibiotics in the face of an ever-expanding antimicrobial resistance crisis. The fact that fewer new classes of antibiotics are being developed, and resistance soon follows newly available antibiotics, only serves to underline the urgency of the matter. There is a clear need of a paradigm shift with regards to antibiotics, and one such hope is antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). AMPs are an integral part of the innate immune systems of most organisms within the domains of life; since their discovery they have become of significant interest as a new type of antimicrobial agent, due in part to the low capacity of bacteria to develop resistance mechanisms towards them. Despite their potential, and lengthy study so far, establishing the specifics of the mechanism of action of many AMPs remains difficult– particularly of those that target the bacterial cell membrane. This lack of understanding limits the ability to rationally design new AMPs with a view to developing new antimicrobial agents. The aim of this work was to help identify new potential hit compounds through NMR structure elucidation, and to develop new methods that would give greater insight into the activity of membrane active AMPs. This in turn could help enable the rational design of new AMPs. WIND-PVPA, a method to quantify permeabilities of water and ions as a means to evaluate the disruptive capabilities of AMPs, was developed. This was demonstrated on a number of AMPs, and it was shown that WIND-PVPA can identify AMPs that have strong, selective, membrane disruptive activities such as the AMP WRWRWR, as well as more modestly disruptive AMPs such as KP-76. The WIND-PVPA was further used with a non-AMP membrane active natural product – lulworthinone – that was characterised over the course of the project. The findings of the study helped classify lulworthinone as a non-disruptive membrane active agent. In addition, microscale thermophoresis (MST) was shown to be a viable method by which the binding and partition coefficients of Trp-rich AMPs can be determined, and it was shown that the derived lipid-bindings of the AMPs correlates well with their bactericidal activity. Both WIND-PVPA and MST have expanded the toolbox available to the study of AMP-lipid interactions and can be used synergistically to give greater insight into the possible mechanism by which AMPs act, by helping to identify interesting cases, such as non-disruptive AMPs with potent activities. In summary, the methods developed have great potential that can be further refined into robust methods that can greatly assist in the deconvolution of AMP activity and can open up possibilities of the rational design of membrane active AMPs as a new generation of antimicrobial agents.  

The thesis is published and available in Munin


  • Scientist Johan Isaksson, IK, UiT (Main supervisor)
  • Professor Bjørn Olav Brandsdal, IK, UiT (Co-supervisor)
  • Professor Kenneth Ruud, IK, UiT (Co-supervisor)
  • Professor Jeanette Hammer Andersen, NFH, UiT (Co-supervisor)

Evaluation Committee

  • Prof. Marité Cardenas, Malmö University, Sweden (1. opponent)
  • Prof. Øyvind Halskau, University of Bergen, Norway (2. opponent)
  • Assoc. Prof. Marius Myreng Haugland, IK, UiT (internal member and leader of evaluation committee)

Leader of public defense

  • Assoc. Prof. Jørn H. Hansen

Links to the trial lecture and defense will be possible to open when the live stream begins. If you haven`t clicked the link to the folder before it begins, refresh the web browser for them to become visible. If you have clicked the link to the trial lecture or defense before it has started, it will open automatically when the stream begins. 

Link to folder which contains trial lecture and defense

The trial lecture starts at 09.15 june 1st

Trial lecture

The defense starts at 09.15 june 2nd


Når: 02. juni 2022 kl. 09.15–13.00
Hvor: Teknobygget auditorium 1.022
Studiested: Digitalt, Tromsø
Målgruppe: Studenter, Gjester / eksterne, inviterte
Kontakt: Eirik Verlo
E-post: eve012@uit.no
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