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Regulation of the Host-Microbiome Interface in the Gastrointestinal Tract

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, September 01, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Inflammatory diseases of the gut are on the rise. In North America and Europe, more than 0.3% of the population suffers from inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), characterized by abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and weight loss. Higher urbanization in newly-industrialized countries is steadily increasing the number of people with IBD, making it a truly global disease of the 21st century. Another troubling trend is the rapid increase in early-childhood-onset IBD, sometimes with complications such as growth failure and malnutrition.

What can we do about it? Genetic risk factors for the disease are inherited and environmental risk factors are either not known or difficult to change. New anti-inflammatory treatments, typically aimed at specific immune targets, have reached the market in recent years. However, not all patients respond to these treatments and many more lose response after repeated use. Alternatives and new approaches for treatment are needed.

Prevention of acute disease, accelerated healing responses, and measures to extend the disease-free phase are desirable. Promising new strategies are aimed at improving the gut bacteria (microbiota) by making them more diverse. Reinforcing the intestinal barrier is another approach that helps to maintain the physical separation of microbiota and epithelium and promotes healing when injuries occur. Work in our laboratory focusses on gaining a deeper understanding of the gut ecosystem and how to readjust the chemical environment which governs host, microbiota and pathogen responses. Our approach ranges from biochemistry/cell biology to mouse models and translation to human disease (Cell Host Microbe 2012, 2016, CMGH 2015, PNAS 2016, Gastroenterology 2017, Mucosal Immunology 2018, Redox Biology 2018). The PhD project will be integrated in our overall program in mucosal immunology and will include analysis of mouse models of infection and inflammation, microbiome studies, and therapy oriented approaches. Further details will be available to interested candidates.

Funding Notes

Graduate students will be integrated into the School of Medicine PhD program with requirements for credits and milestones, and will be mentored by a panel. The PhD position is funded for 3 years including fees (for Irish or EU students). An undergraduate degree of 2.1 or higher in a biomedical field is required, an MSc in Research or similar laboratory work experience is preferred. Previous experience with mice and mouse models will be highly advantageous. We are looking for highly motivated candidates with creativity, intellectual curiosity, good communication skills and a team player mentality.


Please provide a detailed CV, certificate of undergraduate degree, and three science-related references.

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