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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
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Nottingham Trent University, and the Departments of Sport Sciences and Biosciences have an opportunity for a DTA PhD scholarship to investigate how prebiotics may provide benefits to patients with asthma in obesity by lowering their inflammatory status. The work will entail both molecular and patient based physiological research studies working across departments and would suit a person who is keen to work in clinically aligned research endeavours.

You would work with Dr Neil Williams and Dr Graham Sharpe (Sports Sciences: prebiotics, interventions and asthma), Dr Carl Nelson (asthma, immunity and molecular biology) and Professor Philip McTernan (inflammation, obesity, gut flora).

Please contact Neil Williams: or Carl Nelson: for further information.

Asthma and obesity are prevalent disorders, each with a significant public health impact, and a large and growing body of literature suggests an association between the two. A number of studies describe compositional and/or activity differences of the gut microbiota in lean compared to obese individuals, likewise similar differences are evident in the gut microbiota of individuals with asthma compared to healthy controls.

The gut microbiota is a potential novel nutritional target to influence health conditions associated with increased systemic inflammation. Although the composition of the gut microbiota stabilises at around 3 years of age, it is highly responsive to dietary changes in adulthood too. Previous research shows that prebiotics can counteract the overexpression of several host targets that are involved in the development of adiposity, metabolic disorders, asthma and inflammation. However, knowledge on the extent that this can occur in human trials is still limited. Notably dietary interventions of prebiotics (non-digestible carbohydrates) and probiotics (live beneficial microorganisms) offer a potentially feasible means to target the gut microbiota of overweight, obese, and asthmatic individuals.

Therefore, this PhD will require the successful applicant to run human nutritional intervention research trials to establish the efficacy of prebiotic interventions in inflammatory related health disorders and be keen to undertake lab based research to further understand the molecular mechanisms underlying prebiotic effects on inflammatory status, metabolism and airway cell biology.

The successful applicant will gain diverse training and support from both The Department of Biosciences, and The Department of Sport Science within the School of Science and Technology at Nottingham Trent University, the 2017 UK University of the year (Times Higher Education). The successful applicant will have a Bachelor’s degree in either biosciences, exercise science, or, nutrition and a Master’s degree in a relevant subject area.

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