FindAPhD Weekly PhD Newsletter | JOIN NOW FindAPhD Weekly PhD Newsletter | JOIN NOW

Investigating the effects of dairy phospholipids on measures of human brain health and psychobiological wellbeing (Ref: RDFC22/HLS/PSY/JACKSON )

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

   Wednesday, November 30, 2022  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The development of nutritional strategies to promote optimal brain health and psychobiological wellbeing across the lifespan is a broad and rapidly growing area of research. One class of nutrients that has shown promise in this respect is phospholipids. Phospholipids are fundamental to maintaining biological membrane structure and function, and, although they are present in all cell types, are particularly abundant in the central nervous system. In vivo studies have demonstrated that membrane phospholipid composition is modifiable by dietary intake, the predominant sources of which are milk, soy, and egg yolk. Preliminary evidence suggests that a diet enriched with phospholipids may be beneficial to cognitive processes, however much of the research to date has focussed on early life interventions, with few studies evaluating their effects in adulthood. Of particular interest is emerging evidence indicating that increased intake of dietary phospholipids may be an effective strategy to reduce the impact of challenges to cognitive function during chronic stress and ageing. However, much more evidence is required.

The overarching objective of this PhD programme is to investigate the effects dietary phospholipids on brain health, psychobiological wellbeing and behaviour in adults. The programme will explore the effects of a high phospholipid bovine milk-derived supplement on behaviour including cognitive and psychobiological processes in a series of randomised controlled intervention studies designed by the student in collaboration with the supervisors and the external partner (see below).

This PhD offers and exciting opportunity to conduct doctoral research within the Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Centre (BPNRC,, which has an international reputation for conducting randomised controlled trials examining the effects of nutritional and dietary interventions on human behaviour. In addition, as the project is a collaboration between BPNRC and Volac International Ltd (, the student will also benefit from the experience of working with an industry partner.

The project will be supervised by Dr Philippa Jackson (BPNRC) and Prof Mark Wetherell (Psychobiology of Stress and Wellbeing group) and be based at Northumbria University. 

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

·        Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.

·        Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

·        Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see 

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDFC22/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 30 November 2022

Interviews: January 2023

Start Date: 1 March 2023

Northumbria University is committed to creating an inclusive culture where we take pride in, and value, the diversity of our doctoral students. We encourage and welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds a bronze Athena Swan award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality, we are a Disability Confident Employer, a member of the Race Equality Charter and are participating in the Stonewall Diversity Champion Programme. We also hold the HR Excellence in Research award for implementing the concordat supporting the career Development of Researchers

Informal enquiries to: Dr Philippa Jackson ()

Funding Notes

Funding Notes
The studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2022/23 this is £16,062 per year) and full tuition fees. Only Home candidates may apply, due to funding constraints.
Please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
• have settled status, or
• have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• have indefinite leave to remain or enter.


Patan MJ, Kennedy DO, Husberg C, Hustvedt SO, Calder PC, Khan J, Forster J & Jackson PA (2021). Supplementation with oil rich in eicosapentaenoic acid, but not in docosahexaenoic acid, improves global cognitive function in healthy, young adults: results from randomized controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqab174.
Patan MJ, Kennedy DO, Husberg C, Hustvedt SO, Calder PC, Middleton B, Khan J, Forster J & Jackson PA (2021). Differential Effects of DHA- and EPA-Rich Oils on Sleep in Healthy Young Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients 13 (1) 17 248. DOI: 10.3390/nu13010248.
Jackson PA, Forster J, Khan J, Pouchieu C, Dubreuil S, Gaudout D, Moras B, Pourtau L, Joffre F, Vaysse C, Bertrand K, Abrous H, Vauzour D, Brossaud J, Corcuff JB, Capuron L & Kennedy DO (2021). Effects of Saffron Extract Supplementation on Mood, Well-Being, and Response to a Psychosocial Stressor in Healthy Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Parallel Group, Clinical Trial. Frontiers in Nutrition 7:606124. DOI: 10.3389/fnut.2020.606124.
Reay, J., Wetherell, M.A., Morton, E., Lillis, J., Badmaev, V. (2020). Sceletium Tortuosum (Zembrin ®) ameliorates experimentally induced anxiety in health volunteers. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical & Experimental, 35(6), 1-7.
Benson, S., Ayre, E., Garrison, H., Wetherell, M.A., Verster, J.C., Scholey, A. (2020). Alcohol hangover and multitasking effects on mood, cognitive performance, stress reactivity and perceived effort. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 9, 1154.

Email Now

PhD saved successfully
View saved PhDs