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Characterisation of the Gut Microbiome in Dogs and Cats

  • Full or part time

    Dr T Worthington
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, December 16, 2018
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Professor Anthony Hilton, Aston University
Dr Tony Worthington, Aston University
Dr Zoe Marshall-Jones, The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition
Dr Zoe Lonsdale, The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition

Applications are invited from ambitious, self-motivated candidates to conduct research for a PhD in exploring the microbiome of dogs and cats. The successful candidate will join the active research environment of the Cell & Tissue Biomedical Research Group at Aston University. This opportunity is open to UK and EU students who have at least an Upper Second-Class Honours degree in Biology/Microbiology/Biomedical Science or a related subject, and or a Masters in Biological Science with clear evidence of research methods training and competence.

Recent advances in high throughput sequencing techniques have facilitated the description of the microbiome with a wide range of applications. Current platforms enable the full molecular description of complex microbial communities and have furthered our understanding of the host microbiome interaction and the influence of the microbiota on health. This understanding has been extended to pet health, however knowledge is often limited to molecular analyses of abundance (of genes or taxa) providing limited understanding of bacterial metabolism and function.

The student will work towards furthering our understanding of the faecal microbiome of dogs and cats as an indicator of the gut microbiome. Faeces will be profiled for the bacterial taxa present in a population of healthy dogs and cats exposed to a common diet. Associated demographic information, such as species, breed and gender will also be investigated to understand whether these factors influence the microbiome in pet animals. In addition to characterizing the faecal microbiome, cultivable populations will also be investigated and further characterized using phenotypic assays to assess characteristics of the microbiome associated with the same demographics described above.

Aston University was ranked in 5th of 94 UK Higher Education Institutions for research in Allied Health Professions (REF 2014) and was ranked 1st for research environment. Additional information about research in the School can be found at

Financial Support:

The studentship comprises of the current RCUK tax-free stipend of £14,777 p.a. and payment of Home/EU tuition fees only. The studentship is available for three years, subject to satisfactory progress review at the end of the first year with an anticipated registration date of January 2019.

Application Requirements:

• Eligible Applicants should hold at least a Bachelor (Hons.) Degree of either 1st Class/ 2.1 or MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline.
• EU Applicants will need to demonstrate adequate proficiency in English Language skills, with a minimum overall score of 93 (Internet Based) (with a minimum score in each section of: R: 18, W: 23, L: 19 and S: 19) in TOEFL or IELTS with minimum marks of 6.0 in each section and an overall band of 6.5.
• The successful candidate will be expected to undertake research at the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition for a period of up to 3-months as required.
• Informal enquiries should be addressed to Professor Anthony Hilton (E-mail: ; Telephone: 0121 204 3960).
• To apply please complete the on-line application form at , choosing ‘Research Full-time Biomedical
Sciences - January 2019’’ (Please select this under the ‘Entry Month of All’). Please quote Reference: ‘PhD_Jan
2019_Hilton’ on your application.
• The Closing Date for All Applications is: Sunday, 16th December 2018

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