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Research Support Unit

Dr P G Lawlor , Dr G Gardiner Friday, January 08, 2021 Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The MonoGutHealth project will provide an interdisciplinary, intersectoral and international training experience for you as an early stage researcher (ESR). Together with 10 other ESRs, you will be involved in projects exploring novel strategies employing nutritional and/or bioactive ingredients that positively influence perinatal development in monogastrics through optimal microbial colonisation of the gut. Ultimately, the MonoGutHealth project aims to promote optimal growth of pigs and chickens and at the same time make them more resilient to environmental and health challenges, reduce the number of medicinal interventions and improve animal welfare.

The objective of this PhD project is to develop nutritional and management strategies that improve the health, growth and efficiency of piglets born into large litters and reared in the absence of antimicrobials and pharmacological levels of zinc oxide and copper. Areas to be assessed will include: (1) Determining the importance of sow and colostrum microbiota in developing the piglet intestinal microbiome, and evaluating their influence on piglet health, growth and feed efficiency; (2) Identifying the influence of vaginal, faecal and colostrum/milk microbiome populations on the composition of piglets’ gut microbiota during lactation and subsequent stages; (3) Early identification of piglets and litters at risk of increased mortality due to reduced immunity uptake from the sow and/or inappropriate gut microbiome colonisation and; (4) Evaluating probiotic administration to the sow and/or progeny as a replacement for antimicrobials and pharmacological levels of zinc oxide and copper in pig diets.

You will be based at the Teagasc Pig Production Department at Moorepark, Fermoy in Ireland where you will be supervised by Dr. Paul Cormican and Dr. Peadar Lawlor. You will be co-supervised by Dr. Gillian Gardiner (Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland) and Dr. Ramon Muns (AFBI, Northern Ireland). You will be registered for a PhD at Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland.
As well as the many training schools available to you as an ESR in the MonoGutHealth project, you will receive specific training in milk replacer and feed formulation for piglets at Kiernan Milling, Ireland and sow milk analysis at FBN Germany. You will also undertake a secondment at AFBI, Northern Ireland where you will perform one of your animal experiments.

Funding Notes

Strict eligibility requirements apply:
Applicants should not have resided or performed their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the host institution for more than 12 months in the 3 year-period immediately prior to the start date of the PhD research.
Applicants for the ESR PhD positions should be within the first 4 years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers and not yet have been awarded a doctorate. This 4 year period is measured from the date of obtaining the degree which would formally entitle them to embark on a doctorate programme.


By participating in the MonoGutHealth consortium, you will obtain in-depth training in scientific (monogastric nutrition, gut physiology and microbiome and immunology) and soft (training on communication and outreach activities and entrepreneurship) skills through participation in targeted courses. You also will get the opportunity to collaborate with other ESR in the MonoGutHealth network of 7 European countries and you will be exposed to industry (for at least 3 months) and build a lasting network for your future career in academia and/or industry. You will be carefully supervised by 3 experienced members of leading academic and industrial representatives. MonoGutHealth will give you much more than a ‘classical’ PhD dissertation. You will obtain many additional skills to help you in your future career to traverse traditional discipline boundaries, identify and implement the most appropriate tools to comprehensively overcome pressing future challenges in academia and/or industry. Information for MSC-ITN fellows can be found at

Deadline 8th January 2021
Apply to:
• complete CV
• motivation letter*
• copies of University Bachelors/Masters certificates or equivalent
• contact details of 2 referees, including recommendation letter
• GDPR statement**

* Motivation letter should include (max 600 words)
• Describe what about this position particularly interests you, why you want to apply for it and why you should be considered for the ESR position.
• Indicate why you want to pursue a PhD project and not take a job in industry.
• Explain why you think it is important to improve animal welfare and efficiency in livestock production.
• Describe your experience in working with experimental animals, if any, and why animal experiments need to be performed.
** You consent that your personal data will be processed by the MonoGutHealth project consortium for considering your application for the ESR position.

Applicants must have a relevant Master’s degree in Agricultural Science, Animal Science or Veterinary Science, with relevant animal and laboratory experience.
Applicants whose first language is not English must submit evidence of competency in English; please see WIT’s English Language Requirements for details.

Please note: Successful candidates will receive fixed term full-time employment contracts with Teagasc for 36 months, as per the MSCA-ITN provisions. In all cases, successful candidates will be enrolled on a structured PhD programme of 48 months in duration and will be required to pay fees for this 48-month duration.

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