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Supporting healthy ageing through the microbiota: A Drosophila model (Durham)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr R Clark
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

An increasing proportion of our population now falls within the elderly age bracket. As a result, the identification of interventions that help people stay healthy into their old age is one of the most significant challenges facing biomedical research today. Among the factors that contribute to age-related decline, changes in the intestinal microbiota (termed dysbiosis) have been associated with measures of frailty and comorbidity in the elderly, and with multiple age-related diseases. This suggests that the development of therapies that help maintain a youthful microbiota may extend healthy lifespan. The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is a premier model system for ageing research. This project will build on our recent work demonstrating that the intestinal microbiota of Drosophila shows age-related dysbiosis that is broadly similar to that shown in the frail elderly. Age-related dysbiosis in Drosophila is also closely associated with health decline and shortened lifespan. Systems biology approaches (in collaboration with Prof. Anil Wipat’s lab, Newcastle) will be combined with the powerful genetic tools available in the Drosophila model to enable us to identify molecular mechanisms driving age-related dysbiosis. Key candidates will also be tested in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans (in collaboration with Dr David Weinkove’s lab, Durham), an elegant model of host-microbe interactions. Our goal is to inform the development of interventions that prevent or delay age-related dysbiosis, and the short lifespan of these models will allow us to assess the impact of targeting the drivers of dysbiosis on readouts of animal health and longevity. The successful student will join a dynamic, collaborative, research environment. Our multi-disciplinary approach will provide an exceptionally broad level of training ranging from molecular and microbiological techniques, through the use of genetic model systems, to bioinformatics and systems biology approaches. In addition, the student will be involved in a highly topical, high-impact and fast-paced area of research.

For further information see the website:

To apply:
Please submit a full CV and covering letter directly to [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This is a 4 year BBSRC studentship under the Newcastle-Liverpool-Durham DTP. The successful applicant will receive research costs, tuition fees and stipend (£14,057 for 2015-16). The PhD will start in September 2016. Applicants should have, or be expecting to receive, a 2.1 Hons degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. EU candidates must have been resident in the UK for 3 years in order to receive full support. There are 2 stages to the application process


Clark, R. I., Salazar, A., Yamada, R., Fitz-Gibbon, S., Morselli, M., Alcaraz, J., Rana, A., Rera, M., Pellegrini, M., Ja, W. W. & Walker, D. W. (2015). Distinct shifts in microbiota composition during Drosophila aging impair intestinal function and drive mortality. Cell Reports 12: 1-12.

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