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Psyllium fibre: from molecular structure to human health (WARRENQ20DTP)

   Graduate Programme

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  Dr F Warren  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Psyllium fibre is an emerging and important source of dietary fibre, used in the treatment of many digestive disorders and extensively in the processing of foods, especially gluten free products. It has unique properties in the digestive tract due to its ability to hold water and delay fermentation in the gut. These properties arise because of the unique molecular architecture of the psyllium, which is a highly branched, complex polymer with a poorly understood structure.

This project will use cutting edge NMR techniques to probe the hydration and molecular dynamics of psyllium fibres obtained from different sources. In particular the project will focus on the mobility and hydration of side-chains in psyllium fibres with different structures. This will be used to understand the gelling and flow properties of the Psyllium fibres in a model of the human gut. Psyllium has delayed fermentation by the microbiota in the human colon, and this project will aim to understand this in terms of polymer hydration and gel forming properties.

Through this project, you will receive an excellent multi-disciplinary training in using advanced chemistry techniques to solve biological problems. In particular the application of advanced NMR spectroscopy methods for studying soft-matter systems Norwich is a leading centre for research into the interface between chemistry and microbiome research and this studentship will provide and excellent platform for launching a scientific career.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 7th, 8th or 9th January 2020.

The NRP DTP offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year 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 (PIPS) during their study. The internship 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.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Funding Notes

For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website: Full Studentships cover a stipend (2019/0 rate: £15,009pa), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.
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