PhD Studentship: Modulating the microbiota to improve vaccine responses

University of East Anglia - Norwich Medical School

Start Date:  1st October 2017

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Dr Lindsay Hall

Project description:

We are looking for a creative and motivated PhD candidate to join a dynamic, multi-disciplinary research team investigating the early life (infant) microbiota and host interactions. This position is within Dr Lindsay Hall’s lab at the Institute of Food Research. In 2018, research teams from IFR will integrate into the Quadram Institute, a new interdisciplinary research institute at the forefront of a new era in gut microbes, food and health research (, thus providing an excellent platform for a starting scientific career.

Background: The resident gut microbiota plays an important role in the modulation of both local and systemic immune responses. However, the impact of the microbiome composition on vaccine efficacy remains a limited area of study. Significant differences exist in the induction of vaccine responses in geographically distinct populations, which may be linked to host genetics, nutritional state, exposure to related infectious agents and critically also differences in the resident microbiota. Notably, randomised clinical trials have shown that some probiotic strains, including Bifidobacterium, are able to increase specific immune responses against vaccine antigens. These findings suggest that the presence of specific microbiota members could contribute to a greater vaccine efficacy.

The goal of this PhD studentship is to use microbiology and immunology techniques to identify mechanisms underlying microbiota-vaccination responses and how microbiota therapies may help to augment vaccines responses in different infant cohorts. This studentship represents an excellent training module for a wide range of microbiology, immunology and some bioinformatic techniques utilising pre-clinical and clinical samples.

Person specification: Minimum entry 2:1

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,296pa – 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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