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Studying protein-saliva interaction and its role on texture perception


Faculty of Environment

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Prof A Mackie , Dr A Sarkar No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

What is the science behind healthier, protein containing snacks? How do food components interact with saliva to determine sensory experience?

This is an exciting opportunity for a highly motivated and creative student with a background in biosciences, biochemistry, food science or related areas. You will be joining a dynamic and multidisciplinary team investigating the impact and mechanism of interaction between proteins and saliva on oral mucosa and texture perception.

The food industry is facing the strongest ever pressure to satisfy the consumer demand for healthier and more nutritious foods (e.g. low sugar/fat, high protein/fibre), and the most common way to achieve this is through reformulation of current recipes. However, without understanding the impact of interactions between food components (proteins in this case) and saliva, the reformulation can result in reduced consumer liking, particularly in texture perception. The student will use a series of physicochemical methods to understand the interactions between proteins and saliva and how these interactions may impact texture perception in both model and real food systems.

This project is part of the BBSRC-funded Mondelez International (a major food manufacturer) CTP, in partnership with the Norwich Research Park DTP and the KTN. The student would be based at the University of Leeds and spend at least three months at Mondelez International understanding how academic research is translated into a commercial environment. The research will therefore be directly translated into the design of novel, healthy foods. As part of a dispersed cohort of students within the Mondelez CTP, the student would also have the opportunity to share experiences with students at other academic hosts.

The student would receive training in protein characterisation using dynamic light scattering, electrophoresis, fluorescence spectroscopy, confocal microscopy, tribology (lubrication) and many other practical skills. The successful applicant will benefit from the combined expertise of research groups at University of Leeds and Mondelez International, as well as a range of other training opportunities, making this project the perfect springboard for a future scientific career. Experience in sensory trials would be advantageous but not essential.

Funding Notes

Funding for this four year BBSRC and industrially co-funded studentship PhD studentship is available to UK and EU nationals who meet the UK residency requirements. Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award. The studentship offers a stipend enhancement of £1,000 per month), research costs and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. The stipend is only available for UK citizens and EU nationals who meet UK residency. Further details on eligibility for funding can be found on the UKRI website.

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