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Gut microbiota as a novel nutritional target to influence systemic inflammation in overweight participants with asthma

  • Full or part time

    Dr C Nelson
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, April 12, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Asthma and obesity are globally important chronic inflammatory disorders that require urgent action, therefore the research aims of this proposed PhD are to:

(1) Define the difference in gut permeability and gut microbe derived endotoxin (bacterial fragments) between subjects with and without asthma; before and after a prebiotic galactooligosaccharide feeding;
(2) investigate the effect of prebiotic intervention on the quality of life, physical activity, asthma symptoms, and disease control in obese asthmatics;
(3) Delineate the mechanisms of endotoxin and prebiotic galactooligosaccharide action using in vitro lung and adipose cells and ex vivo peripheral mononuclear blood cells derived from obese asthmatics.


We will use a variety of in vivo and in vitro analysis using molecular biology and physiology state of the art equipment within NTU and in conjunction with external collaborators.

Research Design

Double blinded cross-over prebiotic dietary intervention ((n=40; single daily dose; 4 weeks with placebo or treatment, 2 weeks wash out, 4 weeks with placebo or treatment) using participants with and without asthma (over varying BMIs)). Samples taken will include breath, blood (PBMCs), urine and faecal samples.
Study 1 –Define gut microbiota composition and systemic inflammation; gut microbiota analysis support from Professor Glenn Gibson and Dr Gemma Walton Reading University.
Study 2 –Analyse biochemical markers, asthma severity, gut permeability, VOCs and physiology.
Study 3 – in vitro molecular work on lung and adipose tissue will assess inflammatory pathways and mitochondrial function. Prof Philip McTernan has accessible tissue banks; mitochondrial expertise support provided by Prof Helen Maddock Coventry University.

Ambition & Innovation

This novel intervention could be a key adjunct therapy to improve disease management, enhance quality of life and reduce the health related costs of managing asthma in weight gain.


Applicants must apply using the online form on the University Alliance website at Full details of the programme, eligibility details and a list of available research projects can be seen at

The final deadline for application is 12 April 2019.

Funding Notes

DTA3/COFUND participants will be employed for 36 months with a minimum salary of (approximately) £20,989 per annum. Tuition fees will waived for DTA3/COFUND participants who will also be able to access an annual DTA elective bursary to enable attendance at DTA training events and interact with colleagues across the Doctoral Training Alliance(s).
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 801604.

How good is research at Nottingham Trent University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 14.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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