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Impact of microbiome metabolism on drug-induced toxicity

   Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit

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  Dr K Patil, Dr Sarah Aitken  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a 4 year PhD studentship, commencing October 2023, funded by the MRC Integrative Toxicology Training Partnership (ITTP)

Project Outline

The efficacy and side effects of various drugs have been linked to the gut microbiome. Gut bacteria also directly modify and bioaccumulate several drugs altering their pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics. This project will focus on drug toxicity through the angle of the liver-gut axis which is driven by two-fold interactions between these organ systems, viz., drug co-metabolism through entero-hepatic circulation, and impact of gut bacterial metabolites on tissue function.

The student will have a unique opportunity to work in this emerging field of microbiome-host interactions from a mechanistic angle. They will work closely with the members of the Patil and Aitken lab – spanning diverse research expertise – as well as with AstraZeneca to gain insights into translational toxicology research.

The Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit is an internationally renowned institution focused on mechanistic insights into toxicology and disease.  Successful applicants will enjoy membership of a University of Cambridge College from commencement of their PhD in October 2023.  The studentship is funded by the MRC Integrative-Toxicology Training Partnership (ITTP) with AstraZeneca as industrial partner.

Applicants should have or shortly expect to obtain a first or good upper second-class degree from a UK university, or an equivalent standard from an overseas university, in a relevant subject. Strong analytical skills, in addition to creativity, curiosity, enthusiasm, and the ability to work in a team are essential.

The Unit provides a supportive learning environment designed to meet the scientific and transferable skills required for an internationally competitive career. Our PhD Programme aims to train the scientific leaders of the future, giving them rewarding research projects with access to world-class facilities and expertise. Students receive toxicology-specific training in the Unit and through the Integrated Toxicology Training Partnership (ITTP).

Application Process

You are strongly recommended to contact the project supervisor prior to submitting your formal application to find out more about the project and eligibility: Dr Kiran Patil

Information regarding the application process can be found at: PhD Programme | MRC Toxicology Unit (

All formal applications will need to be made through the University Application Portal:

PhD in Biological Science (MRC Toxicology Unit) | Postgraduate Admissions (

Your online application must include:

• A CV, including full details of all University course grades to date -

• Contact details for two academic or professional referees

• A personal statement of interest

Funding Notes

Full funding covering Maintenance and the University Composition Fee (Home Fee rate) is provided for this studentship, with effect from 1 October 2023.
The Maintenance fee is currently £19,250.
This studentship is open to UK citizens or overseas students who meet the UK residency requirements (home fees) or are able to augment the funds to cover the extra costs associated with international student fees. Full details of the University's entrance requirements are specified here: View Website.
Closing date: Friday 31st March 2023 or once a suitable candidate is found. Early applications are recommended.


Klünemann et al. Bioaccumulation of therapeutic drugs by human gut bacteria. Nature 597(7877): 533-538. (2021)
Lindell et al. Multimodal interactions of drugs, natural compounds and pollutants with the gut microbiota. Nat Rev Microbiol., doi:10.1038/s41579-022-00681-5 (2022).
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