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BBSRC MRes/PhD Studentship - Understanding the molecular mechanisms by which complex glycansare metabolized in the human microbiota

This job is no longer available

Newcastle University
21 February 2012
North East England > Tyne & Wear
Course fee
not specified

Further information

BBSRC MRes/PhD Studentship - Understanding the molecular mechanisms by which complex glycansare metabolized in the human microbiota

  • Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP)
  • Reference Code: CB080


Name of the supervisors
Professor H Gilbert , Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences  

This studentship is sponsored by BBSRC as part of the  Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP)

Duration of the award
4 years (MRes Medical and Molecular Biosciences followed by three- year PhD)

Project description
The human large bowel is colonized by a community of microbes, the microbiota, which has a significant impact on human health and nutrition through the production of short chain fatty acids, and by interactions with the host immune system. The major nutrients available to these organisms are dietary glycans that are not metabolized by mammalian enzymes in the small intestines. Dietary and nutraceutical strategies can, potentially, be deployed to encourage the dominance of beneficial microbes in the microbiota, ensuring that this microbial ecosystem has a positive influence on human health.

This approach, however, is greatly restricted by a critical lack of understanding of the mechanisms by which complex glycans are metabolized by the microbiota. Significantly, the wealth of genomicmetagenomic and transcriptomic data now available, presents an exciting and unparalleled opportunity to make decisive advances in our understanding of glycan metabolism in the human large bowel.

This project seeks to capitalize on this genomic information to dissect the molecular mechanisms by which complex carbohydrates are utilized by the human microbiota. The data generated, and the models established, will trigger the development of novel dietary strategies that are designed to maximize human health through manipulation of microbiota structure. Specifically, the student will be engaged in the recombinant expression and biochemical characterization of enzymes and carbohydrate binding proteins, the analysis of the functional significance of their cellular location and, the three dimensional structure of exciting targets will be determined by X-ray crystallography for selected targets. The functional significance of key enzymes will also be investigated through the introduction of null mutations in the endogenous bacterial host.

Value of the Award and Eligibility
Depending on how you meet the BBSRC's eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award. A full award covers tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and an annual stipend of £13,590 (2011/12).   A partial award covers fees at the UK/EU rate only.

Person Specification
Candidates should have or expect to achieve a First Class or 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant science subject

How to Apply
You must complete the University's postgraduate application form. Select "Master of Research/Doctor of Philosophy (Medical Sciences) - Cell and Molecular Biosciences" as the programme of study. Only mandatory fields need to be completed (no personal statement required) but you must attach a copy of your CV and a covering letter, quoting the title of the studentship and reference number CB080.

Closing date for applications 
Prompt application is advised as this post is only available until a suitable candidate is appointed

Further Information
For further details, please contact:

Professor H Gilbert,
e-mail: ,
telephone: +44 (0) 191 222 8800,
mobile: 07411646161

Newcastle University

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