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PhD Studentship - Artificial Sweeteners: Effects on Gut Antimicrobial Resistance

Anglia Ruskin University - Faculty of Science & Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Cambridge
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £18,622 per year tax-free stipend (2023-24 rate).
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 20th December 2023
Closes: 3rd March 2024
Reference: 546394
 

About ARU:
We are ranked in the world’s top 350 institutions in the 2022 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and we are a global university transforming lives through innovative, inclusive and entrepreneurial education and research. Our research institutes and four faculties bridge scientific, technical and creative fields. We deliver impactful research which tackles pressing issues and makes a real difference to our communities. Our academic excellence has been recognised by the UK’s Higher Education funding bodies, with 16 of our research areas assessed as world-leading. In 2021, we were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our world-leading music therapy work.

About the Role:
Anglia Ruskin University is inviting applications for a fully-funded Vice-Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship for a period of 36 months within the School of Life Science, Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Project Description:
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global health concern that features in the top 10 worldwide public health problems threatening society. A 2016 review on AMR estimates that around 10 million people could die as consequence of AMR by 2050. There are a range of reasons for these shocking numbers however, the ability of bacteria to transfer antibiotic resistance genes (via horizontal gene transfer) is the major contributor to this global spread.

Recent research has shown evidence that artificial sweeteners can have an antibiotic-like effect, affecting the human gut microbiota composition and can induce the spread of antibiotic resistance genes. These compounds are widely present in the human diet and their consumption has increased over the years, thus it is important to have a comprehensive understanding about the effects that they cause in human health, and establish a robust link between artificial sweeteners and the expansion of the gut resistome.

One mechanism that bacteria have to protect themselves from external pressures e.g. antibiotics, is to produce a biofilm. We have previously shown that artificial sweeteners promote biofilm production, which suggests that these compounds could indeed be linked to increased spread of ARGs. Therefore, the project focuses on how the growing consumption of artificial sweeteners creates a selective pressure in microbial communities that has an antibiotic-like effect, potentially increasing the amount of ARGs harboured by the human gut microbiota and their spread between commensal and pathogenic bacteria in the human gastrointestinal tract. The PhD student will use a range of microbiology research techniques, including transcriptomics studies, to address this gap in the literature and assess the pathogenic changes in model gut bacteria.

Knowledge of transcriptomic analysis is desirable.

The award is subject to the successful candidate meeting the studentship Terms and Conditions which can be found on our website (accessed by the 'Apply' button) alongside further information about the project: https://aru.ac.uk/research/postgraduate-research/vc-phd-scholarships and enquiries can be directed to phdscholarships@aru.ac.uk.

We are committed to safeguarding and promoting welfare of our staff and students and expect all staff to share this commitment.

We value diversity at ARU and welcome applications from all sections of the community.

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