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Investigating obesity induced gut microbiome changes in the development of multiple myeloma (RUSHWORTH_U23MMB)

   Norwich Medical School

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  Dr S Rushworth  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Approximately 6,000 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma (MM) in the UK each year. Presently myeloma remains incurable with a median survival of about 50%. MM is a cancer of plasma cells, which are considered the backbone of the adaptive immune system due to their ability to produce immunoglobulins and fight microbial infections. There are many associated risk factors for MM, however, obesity has consistently been recognized as a risk factor. In this project with access to human samples from MM patients, the aim of this study is to determine the role of obesity induced changes in gut microbiota on driving/influencing the progression of MM.

Research methodology

Gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms regulating MM development in the context of its local bone marrow but also the wider organ system will enable us to propose strategies for therapeutic intervention. Therefore, the aim of this project is to define the metabolic mechanisms underpinning MM progression. Specifically, we will determine the role of changes in gut microbiota induced by obesity in these processes. To do this, the PhD student will learn in vivo techniques including animal handling, as well as isolation of samples from humans. The student will receive training in cellular biology methodologies including DNA isolation, library preparation and sequencing as well as bioinformatic skills to analyse the acquired sequencing data.


The project will be carried out under the supervision of Dr Stuart Rushworth of the Norwich Medical School, UEA, who has successfully supervised nine PhD students who immediately left for post-doctoral positions. Our lab is a supportive and collaborative environment, holds weekly lab meetings, a biweekly journal club and encourages presentation at local, national and international meetings. Training provided will lead to the development of advanced research skills and other generic transferable skills.

The Microbes, Microbiomes and Bioinformatics (MMB) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) is open to UK and international candidates with relevant undergraduate degrees for entry in October 2023 and offers the opportunity to undertake a 4-year PhD research project funded by the UKRI Medical Research Council in microbiology and microbial bioinformatics.

Our unique and comprehensive training programme empowers students to feel comfortable running sophisticated computer analyses alongside laboratory work and emphasises problem-based learning in microbial bioinformatics, professional development and research skills. All students will undertake a Professional Placement.

Interviews for shortlisted candidates will take place on Wednesday 15 February or Tuesday 16 February 2023.

The MRC DTP is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. Students are selected without regard to age, disability, gender identity, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, ethnicity, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation or social background. We value curiosity, independence of thought, plus an aptitude for research that combines laboratory work and bioinformatics.

For information on eligibility and how to apply:

Funding Notes

This project is awarded with a 4-year studentship including:
• Maintenance stipend according to the MRC stipend scale
• University tuition fee payment
• Research and training costs
Studentship funding does not normally cover costs associated with visa or health surcharges or additional costs associated with entry to, and living in, the UK.
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