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SOLAR-protect: Can tomato extracts protect skin from aging? (GAVRILOVICU20CASE)

Project Description

The prospects are very bright for the use of plant extracts to protect against skin diseases such as UV light-mediated skin aging. Plants extracts are widely used in the cosmetics industry as a source of biologically active, natural products and include stilbenes, such as resveratrol (found in red wine), which have protective effects against factors known to alter the course of healthy skin aging, including ultraviolet radiation-mediated oxidative stress. This is an exciting, inter-disciplinary project, where the protective effects of extracts of tomatoes engineered to produce very high levels of pterostilbenes and certain vitamins, developed by our industrial partner, Persephone Bio, will be tested for protective effects in skin aging models, which the student will develop in conjunction with the Primary Supervisor’s Norwich Skin Platform ( Effects will be assessed by analysis of skin protein expression/distribution as a consequence of inflammation and oxidative stress. A key aspect of this studentship will be the use of Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) to explore physiological read-outs with training received from Co-Supervisor Dr Fraser MacMillan (School of Chemistry, UEA) who leads a state-of-the-art EPR facility ( The student will also be trained in several techniques including human explant culture, immunocytochemical staining and proteomics.

This is a NRPDTP CASE studentship in co-operation with Persephone Bio to investigate formulations using tomato extracts for applications in skin care products.

The student will be based at the School of Biological Sciences UEA, located on the Norwich Research Park which offers excellent research facilities and provides a centre of excellence for postgraduate training. The student will undertake a secondment to locally based Persephone Bio to develop novel formulations of tomato extracts and to learn about the product pipe-line taking basic research to application.

Informal enquiries welcome to Jelena Gavrilovic:

Project supervisor:

Project sponsor: Norwich Research Park Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership

Type of programme: PhD

Start date: 1 October 2020

Mode of study: Full-time

Studentship length: 4 years


This CASE 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 NRPDTP 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. 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: View 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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