University of Reading Featured PhD Programmes
University of Southampton Featured PhD Programmes
University College London Featured PhD Programmes

Probiotics and Pathogens - A Microbial Tug of War for the Host (GILMOUR_Q22DTP)

   Graduate Programme

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  Dr Matthew Gilmour  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

We are not alone when it comes to fighting off infections – our commensal gut microbiota very likely provides a protective effect against invading bacterial pathogens. Bifidobacterium are a foundational microbiota genus influencing microbial community dynamics and host immune development. Our group has been exploiting these properties to study Bifidobacterium as a health-promoting probiotic (1), while also investigating the physiological benefits of this commensal at early life stages, including during pregnancy (2).

Contrary to the support role of commensal microbiota, invasive pathogens have numerous strategies to evade the protective immune response of the host. Listeria monocytogenes is ‘professional intracellular pathogen’ and associated with significant foodborne outbreaks (3) and severe illness or death, as it is highly capable of causing systemic infections that spread from the gut to the blood, brain, or even foetus.

This project seeks to investigate the potentially dynamic relationship that occurs at host cells when presented with Bifidobacterium that are tuned to promote health, while also facing highly invasive Listeria that seek to counteract these defences. In this joint studentship between the Gilmour and Hall groups and the Quadram Institute, the student will have broad training opportunities on genome sequencing and the development of molecular biology tools for transposon mutagenesis – all to explore mechanisms underpinning these microbe-host responses. Following this, a tissue culture model will be used to study how Bifidobacteirum interacts with host epithelial and immune cells, and then in the presence of Listeria, how Bifidobacteirum may modulate the invasiveness of this pathogen.

The student will join a large community of microbiologists based at the Quadram Institute in a brand new, purpose-built building that houses these advanced technologies. The Quadram Institute is part of the Norwich Research Park - and the student will join a large cohort of graduate researchers with exceptional training opportunities.

Informal enquiries: [Email Address Removed] or [Email Address Removed]

The Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) is open to UK and international candidates for entry October 2021 and offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year PhD research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three-month professional internship placement (PIPS) during their study. The placement offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the NRPDTP programme. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on Tuesday 25th January, Wednesday 26th January and Thursday 27th January 2022.

Visit our website for further information on eligibility and how to apply:

Our partners value diverse and inclusive work environments that are positive and supportive. Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Funding Notes

This project is awarded with a 4-year Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) PhD studentship. The studentship includes payment of tuition fees (directly to the University), a stipend for each year of the studentship (2021/2 stipend rate: £15,609), and a Research Training Support Grant for each year of the studentship of £5,000 p.a.


(those marked with * from supervisory team)
*1. Alcon-Giner C, Dalby MJ, Caim S, Ketskemety J, Shaw A, Sim K, Lawson M, Kiu R, Leclaire C, Chalklen L, Kujawska M, Mitra D, Fardus-Reid F, Belteki, G, McColl K, Swann JR, Kroll JS, Clarke P, Hall LJ. Microbiota supplementation with Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus modifies the preterm infant gut microbiota and metabolome: an observational study. Cell Reports Medicine (2020). doi: 10.1016/j.xcrm.2020.100077
*2. Lopez-Tello J, Schofield Z, Kiu R, Dalby MJ, van Sinderen D, Le Gall G, Sferruzzi-Perri AN, and Hall LJ. Maternal microbiota Bifidobacterium promotes placental vascularization, nutrient transport and fetal growth in mice. BioRxiv. 2021. doi:
*3. Reimer A, Weedmark K, Petkau A, Peterson CL, Walker M, Knox N, Kent H, Mabon P, Berry C, Tyler S, Tschetter L, Jerome M, Allen V, Hoang L, Bekal S, Clark C, Nadon C, Van Domselaar G, Pagotto F, Graham M, Farber J, and Gilmour M. Shared genome analyses of notable listeriosis outbreaks, highlighting the critical importance of epidemiological evidence, input datasets and interpretation criteria. Microbial Genomics. 2019 Jan;5(1):e000237.
Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.