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Biochemical interactions of the gut microbiome with environmental pollutants

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, May 31, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit is an internationally renowned institution focused on the delivery of field-changing mechanistic insights into toxicology and disease. This studentship will join the Unit’s new Systems Biology group, led by Dr Kiran Patil.

Project Outline

Pollutants such as pesticides often find their way into agricultural products posing a health risk. Exposure to these toxic compounds is harmful not only to the human cells but also to the commensal microbiota. While the effect on the microbiota could increase the risk of, for example, metabolic diseases, certain bacteria might aid in detoxification of these compounds through their metabolization. This PhD project will investigate the potential of prevalent gut bacteria to detoxify commonly found environmental pollutants and discover underlying biochemical mechanisms. The candidate will thereby combine a variety of experimental methods in microbiology, biochemistry and genetics. The project also provides an excellent opportunity to learn state-of-the-art data analysis methods through working closely with the computational members of the team.

The research will be conducted within the MRC Toxicology Unit which is a core-funded institute within the School of Biological Sciences, University of Cambridge. This leading international research Unit provides state of the art research facilities, with excellent opportunities for collaborative interaction within a vibrant community at the University of Cambridge. The Unit will move into the newly refurbished Gleeson Building, Cambridge, in Autumn 2020.

There are a variety of training modules and courses which students are encouraged to attend. In addition, students follow the Toxicology Unit’s weekly external and internal seminar programs and are included in the postdoc/student forums which take place each month and offer excellent opportunities for collaboration and career development.

Students will be registered with the University of Cambridge for the duration of the studentship. Successful applicants will enjoy membership of a University of Cambridge College from commencement of their PhD in October 2020.

It is recommended that you contact the supervisor prior to making your formal application:
Dr. Kiran R. Patil:

Further information regarding the Patil lab can be found here: https://www.mrc-tox.cam.ac.uk/research/patil-programme

This advert will remain open until 31st May 2020 or until a suitable candidate is found. Please check the Toxicology Unit website for updates: http://www.mrc-tox.cam.ac.uk/

Applications will need to be made through the University Application Portal and will entail an application fee of £65. https://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/application-process/how-do-i-apply

Please enter the project title in the ‘Proposed title of Research’ textbox.

Your online application needs to include:

• A CV, including full details of all University course grades to date.
• Contact details for two academic or professional referees.
• A personal statement outlining your interest in a specific project area, what you hope to achieve from a PhD, and your research experience to date.



Funding Notes

This studentship is for four years commencing October 2020 with an annual stipend of £15,009 (tax free).

Candidates must expect to obtain qualifications at the level of a first-class or 2.1 Honours Degree in a related discipline. In addition to an excellent academic record we are looking for those with hands-on experience in at least one of the following areas: microbiology, bacterial genetics, mass-spectrometry. Enthusiasm to work in an interdisciplinary project and willing to collaborate closely with the other members of the team is essential.

Full funding is available to UK and EU applicants only.

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