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PhD Studentship: Targeting the Sweet Tooth to Curb Population-Wide Sugar Intake

University of Nottingham - Medicine

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Nottingham
Funding for: Self-funded Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 1st November 2023
Closes: 31st January 2024
Reference: MED1967

PhD Supervisor: Dr. Peter Aldiss - peter.aldiss1@nottingham.ac.uk 

Project description:

Excess intake of dietary sugars are a major contributor to obesity, and type 2 diabetes and 82% of people state that taste is the major determinant of what they buy and eat. As such, deciphering the mechanisms of sweet taste, and understanding how we can target the ‘sweet tooth’ is key in curbing population-wide sugar intake.

This project aims to understand how differences in the ability to digest sugar, impacts how we taste, and perceive, sweet foods and whether we can target this pathway to curb sugar intake at the population level. The student will lead a multidisciplinary project including recruit-by-genotype, and/or pharmacological studies in humans, where they will acquire skills in sensory sciences, and functional neuroimaging to understand how we sense, and taste sweet foods, and the impact on reward signalling in the brain. Alongside this, the student will gain expertise in G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) biology, signalling assays and advanced imaging as they seek to understand how genetic variants and pharmacology impact taste-receptor signalling. Finally, the student will gain experience with high-throughput screening of putative therapeutic compounds testing their efficacy at inhibiting key enzymes and signalling pathways involved in sugar metabolism and taste.

Environment:

The Aldiss lab investigates the genetic and hormonal regulation of diet and addiction with a focus on the link between the gut, liver and brain and takes a multidisciplinary approach combining basic, mechanistic science with translational, experimental human physiology.

The student will work across the £100m Biodiscovery Institute and the GI and Liver Theme of the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre within the academic unit of Translational Medical Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham. Opening in 2020, the Biodiscovery Institute is a world-leading hub of interdisciplinary research excellence that is shaping the future of health and biotechnology with a focus on six key themes and is equipped with world-leading cell culture, molecular biology, robotics and tissue engineering suites. 

The GI and Liver Theme of the Biomedical Research Centre is one of the largest gastrointestinal (GI) and liver academic units in the country and conducts leading experimental medicine and early translations studies involving GI physiology, liver metabolism, molecular microbiology, gut microbial interactions and the genomics of complex and monogenic diseases.

The student will work closely with colleagues at the School of Biosciences, gaining expertise in high-throughput screening of neutraceutical compounds and metabolomics with Dr. Tristan Dew (Assistant Professor in Molecular Phenomics) and in functional neuroimaging with Dr. Sally Eldeghaidy (Assistant Professor in Nutritional Neuroimaging) at the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre, an interdisciplinary, cross-faculty centre for innovative imaging in experimental and translational medicine. The student will also spend time with Dr. Caroline Gorvin (Assoc. Professor of Receptor Biology) at the Centre for Membrane Proteins and Receptors (COMPARE) a multidisciplinary collaboration between the Universities of Nottingham and Birmingham that brings together biologists, chemists, physicists, computer scientists and mathematicians with expertise in membrane proteins.

To apply:

Entry requirements: Applicants should hold, or expect to hold, a First or Upper Second-Class UK degree (or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK) in a relevant scientific subject. Completion/near completion of an MSc or MRes course is desirable. This project requires a highly motivated and driven candidate.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr. Peter Aldiss - peter.aldiss1@nottingham.ac.uk


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