Exploring the interplay between ageing, gut microbiome, and neurodegenerative diseases

   Department of Biomedical Sciences

   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Project Overview:

Neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease represent major health risks in ageing societies. While few causative genetic risks for age-associated neurodegenerative disorders have been identified, the role of environmental factors and gene-environment interactions in disease development remains largely unknown. Humans host a range of microorganisms in their gut, collectively known as the gut microbiome, which significantly influence the host’s metabolism and biological processes. An imbalanced gut microbiome has been linked to various pathological conditions, including neurodegeneration and metabolic disorders, and can actively affect the efficiency of disease treatments.

This project aims to examine the largely unexplored field of gut microbiome-host interaction and their impact on host metabolism and neurodegeneration. Diet-induced changes in gut microbiota have previously been implicated in the dysregulation of food intake and body weight control, leading to adverse effects on host health. Studying the mechanistic link between gut microbiota and disease progression in humans is challenging due to the heterogeneity of human and microbial genomes involved. Therefore, the student will utilize the nematode Caenorhabditis (C.) elegans models of neurodegeneration to investigate cellular pathways and tissue-specific signalling mechanisms influenced by the gut microbiome and diets. C. elegans, providing a fast and genetically homogeneous model for microbiome-host interactions, holds great potential for investigating gut microbiome-regulated aging and disease progression. The project aims to elucidate how the gut microbiome exerts its effects on human neurodegenerative diseases, with a specific focus on Parkinson’s disease.

The project offers diverse training opportunities encompassing genetic, molecular, cell biology, and behavioural techniques. The student will be part of a vibrant collaborative research group, contributing to cutting-edge discoveries in the field.

Kevei research group:

The Kevei group is focusing on investigating ageing and ageing related diseases using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans model organism and cellular models with special focus on Parkinson’s disease. The research group is currently composed of 3-4 PhD students, plus Masters and undergraduate students.

School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading:

The University of Reading, located west of London, England, provides world-class research education programs. The University’s main Whiteknights Campus is set in 130 hectares of beautiful parkland, a 30-minute train ride to central London and 40 minutes from London Heathrow airport. 

Our School of Biological Sciences conducts high-impact research, tackling current global challenges faced by society and the planet. Our research ranges from understanding and improving human health and combating disease, through to understanding evolutionary processes and uncovering new ways to protect the natural world. In 2020, we moved into a stunning new ~£60 million Health & Life Sciences building. This state-of-the-art facility is purpose-built for science research and teaching. It houses the Cole Museum of Zoology, a café and social spaces.

In the School of Biological Sciences, you will be joining a vibrant community of ~180 PhD students representing ~40 nationalities. Our students publish in high-impact journals, present at international conferences, and organise a range of exciting outreach and public engagement activities.

During your PhD at the University of Reading, you will expand your research knowledge and skills, receiving supervision in one-to-one and small group sessions. You will have access to cutting-edge technology and learn the latest research techniques. We also provide dedicated training in important transferable skills that will support your career aspirations. If English is not your first language, the University's excellent International Study and Language Institute will help you develop your academic English skills.

The University of Reading is a welcoming community for people of all faiths and cultures. We are committed to a healthy work-life balance and will work to ensure that you are supported personally and academically.


Applicants should have a good degree (minimum of a UK Upper Second (2:1) undergraduate degree or equivalent) in Biology or a strongly-related discipline. Applicants will also need to meet the University’s English Language requirements. We offer pre-sessional courses that can help with meeting these requirements. With a commitment to improving diversity in science and engineering, we encourage applications from underrepresented groups.

How to apply:

Submit an application for a

PhD in Biological Sciences at http://www.reading.ac.uk/pgapply.


Further information:




Dr. Eva Kevei, email:

Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

We welcome applications from self-funded students worldwide for this project.
If you are applying to an international funding scheme, we encourage you to get in contact as we may be able to support you in your application.


Chandler RJ, Cogo S, Lewis PA, Kevei E. Modelling the functional genomics of Parkinson's disease in Caenorhabditis elegans: LRRK2 and beyond. Biosci Rep. 2021 Sep 30;41(9):BSR20203672. doi: 10.1042/BSR20203672.
Kevei É, Hoppe T. Ubiquitin sets the timer: impacts on aging and longevity. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2014 Apr;21(4):290-2. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2806.

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