Funded PhD Studentship: Interrogating the Potential Therapeutic and Immune-Modulating Properties of Cordyceps sinensis (Caterpillar Mushroom)

Swansea University - Biosciences

*This scholarship is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.*

PhD Scholarship for UK or EU applicants in the field of: Biosciences

Subject study: Interrogating the potential therapeutic and immune-modulating properties of Cordyceps sinensis (caterpillar mushroom)

A fully funded PhD scholarship in Comparative Immunology and Microbiology is available within the Department of Biosciences (7th in the 2014 UK Research Assessment Exercise), under the primary supervision of Dr Christopher J. Coates. Secondary supervision is provided by Prof Tariq Butt & Prof Cathy Thornton (Medicine).

The Chinese caterpillar mushroom, Cordyceps sinensis, has been used in traditional medicines for centuries. A recent re-evaluation of the medicinal significance of C. sinensis extracts has revealed many therapeutic properties, including gastrointestinal reparation and anti-cancer activities. C. sinensis is a well-established food stuff approved by the European Food Safety Authority. Despite the commercial and biomedical importance of these fungal extracts, there are extensive gaps in our knowledge regarding the molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for the observed pharmacological effects.

The overall aim of this PhD studentship is to isolate and identify bioactive compounds from C. sinensis extracts that promote ‘healthy guts’, and, to investigate their mechanism of action using a well-established insect model (Galleria mellonella) and in vitro cell culturing. The Golden Dairy Ltd. is a company focussed on delivering nutraceuticals and developing products for digestive efficiency, immunity and fitness in humans. It is the company’s ambition to use compounds from C. sinensis as synergists and adjuvants to combine with pre-existing products.


Candidates should have a 2.1 or above in their undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences or a related subject.

Additional skills and experience:

Essential criteria:

  • Background in cellular and microbial biology
  • Previous experience working in a laboratory setting
  • Excellent communication and organisational skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Good statistical knowledge
  • Fluent in both written and spoken English

Desirable criteria:

  • Practical experience in the following techniques:
  • Chromatography
  • Spectroscopy
  • Microscopy
  • In vitro cell culturing
  • Knowledge of alternative infection models (e.g. insects)

Please visit our website for more information on eligibility criteria:

Additional Funding Information

The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend.  The bursary will be limited to a maximum of £14,198 p.a. dependent upon the applicant's financial circumstances.

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