PhD Studentship - Optically-Induced Sugar

University of Birmingham - School of Chemical Engineering

Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Application Deadline: Applications accepted all year round

Supervisor: A.K. Yetisen

Project Description

The fundamental basis of this proposed research is that sugar appetite can be satisfied without sugar intake, by activating the sugar-specific taste receptor cells in the tongue. This project aims to develop a light-based technique that can provide sweet taste by modulating the periphery taste sensory circuit.

The approach will be to optogenetically activate sugar-expressing taste receptor cells in the tongue and stimulate the gustatory nerves. In the brain, the optically generated sweet taste may evoke sugar reward signals and satisfy sugar appetite, all without involving actual intake of sugar. This technique, termed “optical sugar”, is expected to help individuals adhere to low-carbohydrate diets. The long-term goal is to make optical sugar a practical commodity to improve public health and reduce and treat diet-related disorders.

The successful student will form part of a multidisciplinary team and will be supervised by Dr. Ali K. Yetisen based in the Institute of Translational Medicine ( and the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham.

Funding Notes

Students must have an undergraduate degree or master’s degree in biology, genetics, engineering, chemistry, physics, materials science or a closely related subject.

University of Birmingham scholarships are available for exceptional UK/EU students. Self-funded international students are welcome to apply this post. Potential candidates should contact Dr. Ali K. Yetisen ( and include a CV. Applications will be evaluated on an on-going basis until the position is filled.

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Midlands of England