PhD Studentship: Bacterial indole as an interkingdom signalling molecule promoting gut health (CARDING_F17DTP1)

University of East Anglia - Norwich Medical School

Start Date:  1st October 2017 

Supervisor: Prof. Simon Carding

Project description: The adult human gastrointestinal (GI) tract accommodates a bacterial community that comprises trillions of cells that, in adults, is dominated by two bacterial phyla, Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. This microbiota has many essential roles in human health: it suppresses proliferation of pathogenic microbes and has important nutritional consequences, including vitamin synthesis and fermentation of complex dietary carbohydrates. Microbial metabolites also regulate the signaling activities of the host’s intestinal epithelium, which, for example, aids the development and maintenance of local immune responses. Thus, considerable efforts are now being made to determine the precise nature of the dialog between gut bacteria and the human host. The aim of this project is to investigate the role of one such bacterial metabolite, indole, in gut health and to test the hypothesis that indole production by specific commensal gut bacteria is required to maintain intestinal epithelial barrier integrity and establish mucosal immunity. This will be achieved by (1) establishing the range and levels of indole production by commensal Bacteroides species, (2) determining the impact of indole production on intestinal epithelial cell growth, differentiation and barrier function and, (3) determining the role played by OMVs produced by Bacteroides species on the host response elicited by indole. This exciting multidisciplinary project provides an opportunity to acquire extensive hands-on training in in vivo experimentation, mammalian cell biology and molecular and cellular microbiology.

Person specification: Minimum entry 2:1

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,296 pa – 2016/7), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

Details on eligibility for funding on the BBSRC website:

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South East England