PhD Studentship: How does diet improve metabolic health? Dissecting bioenergetic pathways altered by diet using genomic approaches

University of East Anglia - Biological Sciences

Start Date: 1st October 2017
No. of positions available: 1
Supervisor: Dr Maria Traka

Project description:

Broccoli-rich diets have been associated with reduced risk of developing a range of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. We have recently showed that consumption of broccoli rich diets reduces LDL cholesterol and fasted glucose levels, which suggests that broccoli modulates central metabolic pathways in a manner that may protect against development of chronic diseases. Broccoli is rich in glucoraphanin, a sulphur-containing glucoside that though not bioactive itself is readily metabolised in the gut to bioactive sulforaphane. By using cell and animal models sulforaphane has been linked to the activation of a key transcription factor, nuclear factor-erythroid 2 like 2 (NRF2), which is responsible for upregulating a host of antioxidant genes by binding to a defined element within their promoter. Recent evidence suggests that NRF2 may also play a role in modulating energy metabolism that though under-explored is likely the mechanism by which broccoli-rich diets promote good health. This PhD project will focus on studying the importance of NRF2 activation in mediating the changes in liver metabolic pathways that can maintain health. This project will, first, use whole genome sequencing techniques to identify the transcriptional cascades that are altered by broccoli bioactives and NRF2 and understand their effect on fatty acid metabolism and cellular bioenergetics. There will also be opportunity to engineer novel genetic knockout human cells through genome editing to specifically understand the importance of nrf2 in mediating metabolic regulation by dietary bioactives. The student will benefit from working as part of a vibrant research team on food and health with strong interactions across the Norwich Research Park.

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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South East England