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Molecular mechanisms underlying the anti-atherogenic actions of natural products


   Cardiff School of Biosciences

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  Dr D Ramji  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of myocardial infarction, stroke and peripheral vascular disease, is responsible for most deaths in the western world with mortality increasing at a marked rate in developing countries. The economic burden from atherosclerosis and its complications is expected to worsen due to global increase in risk factors such as diabetes and obesity. Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disorder of large and medium arteries regulated by key cytokines. Manipulating such inflammatory response represents a promising avenue for the prevention and treatment of this disease. Many natural products and their metabolites have anti-atherogenic properties though the underlying molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. We are therefore investigating this aspect using a combination of in vitro and in vivo approaches.

This project will focus on investigation of the protective actions of a chosen natural product or its metabolites on major processes implicated in atherosclerosis in vitro in the three key cell types associated with this disease (i.e., macrophages, endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells) and in vivo using the low-density lipoprotein receptor deficient mouse model system (in collaboration with Dr. Timothy Hughes, School of Medicine, Cardiff University). These mice will be fed an atherogenic western-type diet for 12 weeks and 24 weeks supplemented with vehicle or metabolites. Parameters that will be analysed will include: body weight and weight of organs; plasma lipid profile; plaque morphometry, collagen deposition, and accumulation of macrophages, smooth muscle cells and T-lymphocytes (immunohistochemistry). In addition, RNA-Sequencing will be used to determine global changes in gene expression. The effects on key signalling pathways (e.g. MAP kinases) will also be analysed. The studies will provide an in-depth understanding of anti-atherogenic actions of the agent in vitro and in vivo.

Candidate requirements

A 1st or Upper 2nd class UK honours degree or equivalent. Please visit School of Biosciences Postgraduate Research for more details.

For those whose first language is not English, IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in all subskills, or equivalent. Please see our English Language Requirements guidance for more details.

How to Apply 

To submit a formal application via Cardiff University’s online application service, click the 'Institution Website' button on this advert; in the ‘Apply’ box at the top-right of the page, select Qualification (Doctor of Philosophy), Mode of Study (Full Time) and Start Date (this can be flexible as it is a self-funded project). This will take you to the application portal.

Candidates must submit the following:

 • Supporting statement

 • CV

 • Qualification certificates

 • Proof of English language (if applicable) 

In the research proposal section of the application, specify the project title and supervisors of the project. In the funding section, specify that you will be self-funding. If you are applying for more than one Cardiff University project with the same entry intake, please note this in the research proposal section as the form only allows you to enter one title.


Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project, so students will need to source their own (tuition, bench fees if applicable, living fees if applicable).

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