PhD Studentship: Insects As Models To Study The Impact of Antibiotics and Microbiota Therapies on The Human Gut Microbiome: Reducing The Use of Animals In Research (MAXWELL_J18NC3RS)

University of East Anglia - Biological Sciences

Supervisor: Prof Tony Maxwell

Project description:

We are looking for a creative and motivated PhD candidate to establish Galleria mellonella as a surrogate system to study the human gut microbiome. This position is within Prof Tony Maxwell’s lab at the John Innes Centre (, and Dr Lindsay Hall’s lab ( at the Quadram Institute. These labs are situated on the Norwich Research Park, which has a particularly strong research focus on microbiology (including the microbiota), and antimicrobial resistance, thus providing an excellent platform for a starting scientific career.


The human gut is home to complex microbial communities (the gut microbiota) that have a profound effect on our health and well-being. Our knowledge of the contribution of specific bacterial species to resistance against pathogens, and how antibiotics impact the microbiota and the carriage of antimicrobial resistance genes (i.e. the ‘resistome’) is far from complete. Crucially, our opportunities to investigate the effects of antibiotics and ‘probiotic’ treatments on the human gut microbiome are limited due to ethical considerations. Although murine models can be used these are also subject to strict ethical controls and cost constraints. Insect models represent realistic alternatives. G. mellonella (Greater wax moth) has been utilised in toxicity, microbial virulence and antibiotic susceptibility trials, and thus represents an attractive model system for studying microbiota interactions.

Aims: The goal of this PhD studentship is to establish G. mellonella as a model system to study the human gut microbiome, particularly that of infants, and determine the impact that anti- and pro-biotics have on these microbial communities. Molecular microbiology, next generation sequencing, bioinformatics, and insect husbandry techniques will all be used in this multi-disciplinary PhD.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Person specification: Standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1 or equivalent & Eng Lang (6.5 overall, 6 in each section).

Funding notes:

Funding for this NC3RS 3-year funded PhD studentship is available to successful candidates who meet the UK Research Council eligibility criteria including the 3-year UK residency requirements.

Studentships cover a stipend at standard UK Research Council rate (£14,553pa for 2017/8), research costs and tuition fees at the 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 still be eligible for a fees-only award. Further details on eligibility for funding can be found on the RCUK website:

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South East England