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The impact of early life programming on resistance to helminths in ruminant livestock

Bristol Veterinary School

About the Project

The project:
The gut microbiome is integral to the development of a normal immune system. Disruption to the microbiome during early life – e.g, via antimicrobials, milk replacer, different diets ‐ has long‐lasting impacts on immune function in animals. This is particularly important in ruminant livestock systems, given the economic losses incurred due to infectious disease and the incremental greenhouse gas emissions accompanying them. However, little is known about how early life events impact on the microbiome and immune development in ruminants.

In this exciting PhD program the scholar will undertake a high impact research project at Bristol Vet School (BVS), in collaboration with Rothamsted Research’s North Wyke Farm Platform (NWFP) system‐scale grazing trial, to interrogate the role of the early‐life microbiome in determining subsequent growth and immunity to helminth infection in sheep.

The scholar will first assess the impact of natural variation in early life microbiome composition and function on helminth burdens, growth and production at Wyndhurst Farm (BVS) and Rothamsted Research’s NWFP. They will then evaluate the impact of microbiome modulatory interventions (e.g. antibiotics and probiotics) on the same performance parameters in a subset of animals. The naturally acquired immune response to helminth infection will be closely monitored during this period.

This research will address key questions with regards to the power of microbiomes to influence growth and immunity in small ruminants. The scholar will benefit from a strong interdisciplinary supervisory team lead by Professor Mick Bailey at BVS; including Dr Laura Peachey (Microbiome), Dr Taro Takahashi (Agricultural production) and Professor Andrew Dowsey (Data Science).

This studentship will start in September 2021.

How to apply:
This studentship is part of the BBSRC SWBio Doctoral Training Partnership ( Please apply from

Candidate requirements:
Please see for conditions specific to this funding.

Standard University of Bristol eligibility rules for PhD admissions also apply. Please visit for more information.

Contacts: ;

Funding Notes

Funding: For eligible students (see above), funding is available to cover Home tuition fees and UKRI Doctoral Stipend (£15,009 p.a. for 2019/20, updated each year) for 4 years. An enhanced stipend is available for eligible students with a recognised veterinary degree (£23,164 p.a. for 2019-2020). Research training budget will also be provided to supervisors.

Most international students (including EU students) are ineligible for this funding. However, we will consider competitive self-funded applications from non-UK nationals who are supported by their own government agencies, international organisations or private funders.

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