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PhD studentship in dairy food biotechnology

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  • Full or part time
    Dr J Nolan
    Dr A Prado-Cabrero
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Post summary

Applications are invited for a PhD position funded by the Science Foundation Ireland VistaMilk “Dairy by Design” Research Centre, in the project entitled “Development and manufacture of a carotenoid-enriched dairy product”. VistaMilk is a multi-disciplinary Research Centre that focuses on AgriTech, bringing together the disciplines of ICT and Agriculture. The research centre consists of TSSG-Waterford Institute of Technology, Tyndall National Institute, INSIGHT research centre for data analytics and Teagasc. The candidate is expected to be highly self-motivated, and willing to work in future emerging topics in AgriTech.

Carotenoids are essential for humans. We obtain these molecules exclusively from our diet, mainly from vegetables and fruits, but in today’s world, it is difficult to consume sufficient amounts of these nutrients. Research from our group (and others) have shown that supplementation with specific carotenoids found in the eye and brain (lutein (L), zeaxanthin (Z) and meso-zeaxanthin (MZ)) enhances human function by improving vision and cognition, and has the potential of reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Alzheimer’s disease. The data is now clear that enriching these nutrients enhances function and performance in the general population, with implications for sports and high performance vision- and cognitive-related activities. This has opened a business niche in the food supplement industry with these carotenoids, which are currently prepared in capsules and commercialized as nutraceuticals.
Dairy products represents a unique alternative to capsules to deliver these important micronutrients (as they constitute suitable matrices for carotenoids and are commonly consumed), which is particularly important for children and the elderly. Currently, milk does not contain enough carotenoids to become an important source of these nutrients for society. We will select a dairy product which is suitable to hold carotenoids in order to create a carotenoid enriched food for the population. The PhD candidate will develop this carotenoid-enriched dairy product in our facilities and in MoorePark Technology Ltd. This product will be tested for efficacy at our research center in an appropriately designed clinical study with validated outcome measures.

Standard duties and responsibilities of the scholarship

• Implement protocols to assess carotenoid content in dairy matrices
• Test carotenoid interactions and stability in a range of dairy products
• Perform travels to MoorePark technology Ltd (Fermoy, reachable by car) and make stays of a number of days to prepare the selected enriched dairy product at lab, pilot and production scale, with the help of a Food Artisan Specialist
• Correspond with researchers and companies in charge of assessing the chemical attributes of the dairy product developed
• Analyse serum carotenoids and fatty acids from participants in the human clinical trial
• Analyse data obtained by the Research Technician in the human clinical trial
• Interact with patent attorneys for intellectual property development
• Write papers with the results obtained and attend conferences and meetings

Person specification
Essential: BSc in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Biology or Food Science
Desirable: MSc degree in a relevant discipline
Knowledge & Experience
Essential : strong analytical skills in HPLC and gas chromatography
Desirable: knowledge of the chemistry of carotenoids and their interactions with food matrices
Skills & Competencies
• Highly motivated, demonstrated initiative, disciplined work ethic and ability to work within a multi-disciplinary project team to achieve results
• Have an academic record of excellence and good writing skills.
• Full Irish/European driving license
• Applicants whose first language is not English must submit evidence of competency in English, please see WIT’s English Language Requirements for details.
• Journal/Conference/Workshop Publications writing and submission experience (if any).

Funding Notes

Four year full-time structured PhD

Stipend: €19,500 per annum for 4 years

Fees: €4,500 per annum for 4 years

Further information
For any informal queries, please contact Alfonso Prado-Cabrero at email: [Email Address Removed]
For queries relating to the application and admission process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Office via email [Email Address Removed] or telephone +353 (0)51 302883.


Application procedure

TO APPLY: Please download the Research Postgraduate Application Form from the WIT Website via the following URL and return completed applications to [email protected] quoting WD_2019_32 in the email subject line. Please note that paper submissions will not be accepted.
Any queries relating to the application process should be emailed to [email protected]

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