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Supporting Healthy Microbiota in Aged Skin

Project Description

This PhD project is based in Hull York Medical School.

The skin is home to diverse communities of microorganisms that display elaborate topographical variation. Changes to the natural skin microbiota have been linked to a wide range of skin conditions, and may potentially contribute to systemic disease. Recent studies from our group suggest that the skin microbiome undergoes significant change as we age.

This PhD project will employ state-of-the-art species-level sequencing technology to characterise these changes in detail. You will then explore the significance of this microbial dysbiosis using a human skin/microbial co-culture model that has been developed and optimised in Hull.

A specific focus will be identifying alterations in host-microbe interactions that drive local changes in bacterial composition and abundance. Later in your PhD you will undertake volunteer studies to explore the effects of cleaning products on the microbial composition of skin.

Parallel laboratory-based studies will confirm the direct effects on specific bacterial isolates. The substantial improvement in understanding of the skin microbiota delivered by this PhD will underpin future design and implementation of products compatible with, or beneficial to, the skin microbome.

More about this research team

We are looking for talented candidates to join a multi-disciplinary cluster of four funded PhD scholarships. Working with a major industry partner you will develop and apply cutting edge microbiome profiling technologies to real world clinical and consumer applications.

We are covered, inside and out, by diverse communities of microorganisms, collectively termed our ‘microbiota’. These microorganisms are intimately associated with their micro-environment, producing a range of factors that regulate both our heath and susceptibility to disease.

As a student within this cluster you will focus on understanding the microbial complexity of the skin or respiratory tract, two tissues that are currently poorly studied. You will explore new ways to promote a “healthy” microbiome, test the microbe-supporting effects of new products, or develop new methods to characterise the resistance of wound bacteria at the population level.

Supervised by a team of internationally recognised academics you will have access to outstanding research facilities, including the Hull “VIPER” high performance computing, and NHS/clinical partners.

These projects will provide unique “big data” bioscience training, within a vibrant, supportive research environment, equipping you with skills that are essential for a future career in modern academia or industry.

Applicants for this project need to apply through the University of York website. Please select PhD in Medical Sciences with a start date of “2020 October, full time” and quote the specific project title you wish to apply for.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a 1st class undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science, Microbiology or Computing, together with relevant research experience or a Masters level qualification in a relevant discipline. A 2:1 may be considered, if combined with relevant experience.

Successful applicants will be informed of the award as soon as possible and by 16 March 2020 at the latest.

Scholarships will start on 21 September 2020.

Funding Notes

This is a funded scholarship over a three year period for full-time study. The funding you receive will cover the fees for your PhD programme and also an annual maintenance grant at the level of UKRI (£15,009 in 2019/20).

There is an optional writing up period if you need to complete your thesis after the three year period of your research degree, for which there is a small charge. Your maintenance grant will not cover you during this optional writing up period.

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