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Fighting atherogenic TMAO with food and probiotics (KROONQ19CASE)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr P Kroon
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This project seeks to identify dietary components that can decrease the levels of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) which causes atherosclerosis and is strongly associated with several causes of death (e.g. heart failure) and with diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and chronic kidney disease. TMAO is formed in the liver from TMA that is produced exclusively by certain bacteria in the human gut from dietary compounds such as choline and carnitine. There is no effective, sustainable treatment for reducing TMAO levels. Our recent research has provided preliminary evidence that polyphenols and dietary fibre can reduce production of TMA/TMAO. Another plausible strategy for reducing TMA production in the gut is to use probiotics to alter the structure and function of the microbiota towards a low TMA production phenotype (e.g. by competitive exclusion of microbes that produce TMA).

This project seeks to (i) identify signatures of the gut microbiota that distinguish low and high TMAO individuals using NGS/bioinformatics and qPCR methods to characterise the structure and function of the microbiota and relate this with TMAO phenotype, (ii) screen polyphenols, fibres, probiotics and combinations to identify a highly effective treatment for reducing TMA production using an in vitro colon model, and (iii) determine the mode of action of the effective treatment.

This project will suit a student interested in fundamental research that links gut microbiota and health and in undertaking pre-clinical work that is highly translational. The student will benefit from the expertise of the Kroon (molecular nutrition and metabolism, polyphenols) and Narbad (gut microbiology) groups at the Quadram Institute and of Dr Ashton Harper (microbiology, probiotics) from the CASE partner ADM Protexin.

This Industrial CASE project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition on either the 15th, 16th or 17th May 2019.

The NRPDTP offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Funding Notes

For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website: Full Studentships cover a stipend (UKRI rate: £15,009pa – 2019/0), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate and are available to students who meet the UK residency requirements.
Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

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