PhD Studentship: Carbohydrate utilisation by the beneficial microbiota genus Bifidobacterium for improved health outcomes (WARREN_F17DTP1)

University of East Anglia - Norwich Medical School

Start Date: 1st October 2017

Supervisor: Dr Frederick Warren

Project description:

We are looking for a creative and motivated PhD candidate with a background in microbiology or biochemistry to join a dynamic and multi-disciplinary group investigating interactions between carbohydrates in foods and gut microbiota. This position is jointly hosted by the Warren and Hall labs at the Institute of Food Research.

Within our gut we host a wide range of microbes (termed microbiota) which are essential for our health and wellbeing. One of the dominant microbial genera which have been identified as central to maintaining good health is Bifidobacterium, a key carbohydrate degrader. However, efforts to use Bifidobacterium to improve health have achieved limited success, with a stumbling blocks being our limited understanding of the mechanism by which different species of Bifidobacterium utilise carbohydrates.

Focussing on starch, the goal of this project is to elucidate the mechanism by which different Bifidobacterium species degrade carbohydrate, and the role of the physical structure of starch in influencing interactions with different Bifidobacterium species. This will be assessed using microbial growth assays and K.O. analysis, alongside bioinformatics analysis of transcriptional data. This knowledge will then be taken forward to assess the effectiveness of Bifidobacterium strains at remodelling the microbiota in models of the lean and obese gut microbiota. 

This PhD studentship represents an excellent training module for a wide range of bioinformatic techniques in tandem with microbiology methodologies including: next generation DNA sequencing, bacterial culturing, model colon systems and molecular mutagenesis techniques.

Norwich is a leading microbiology and microbiota research centre and represents an excellent platform for a starting scientific career.

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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