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The impact of gut microbiome and diet interplay on neurodegeneration


   Department of Biomedical Sciences

   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s disease represent major health risks of ageing societies. Few causative genetic risks for age-associated neurodegenerative disorders have been identified, however, the role of environmental factors and gene-environment interactions in disease development is largely unknown. Humans host a range of microorganisms in their gut, called the gut microbiome, which influences the host’s metabolism and biological processes. An imbalanced gut microbiome has been linked to many pathological conditions, including neurodegeneration and metabolic disorders, and can actively influence the efficiency of disease treatments.

Studying the mechanistic link between gut microbiota and disease progression in humans is difficult due to the heterogeneity of human and microbial genomes involved. Hence, the use of simple organisms such as C. elegans is gaining interest, providing an easy, fast and genetically homogeneous model for microbiome-host interaction that can be subjected to large-scale and high-throughput genetic screening. Recent research has shown that altered metabolism of the feeding bacteria has profound effects on the lifespan of C. elegans, and demonstrated the great potential of C. elegans as a model of gut microbiome-regulated ageing and disease progression and its clinical relevance to human studies.

This project aims to examine the largely unexplored field of gut microbiome-host interaction, and its impact on the host metabolism and neurodegeneration. Diet-induced changes in gut microbiota have been previously implicated in dysregulation of food intake and body weight control, leading to undesired effects on host health (obesity and associated diseases).

This project will utilize our existing C. elegans genetic models of Parkinson’s disease to investigate cellular pathways and tissue-specific signalling mechanisms that are influenced by the gut microbiome and various obesogenic diets. The project aims to shed light on how the gut microbiome exerts its effect on human neurodegenerative diseases, with a special focus on Parkinson’s disease.

The student will use genetic, molecular, cell biology and behavioural techniques in their study and will be part of a vibrant collaborative research group. There will also be opportunities to gain training in teaching pedagogy.

This project offers diverse training opportunities. The student will experience and learn various complimentary research techniques including a blend of in-silico analyses and biological experimentation, use multiple model systems, and be exposed to different research environments.

School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading:

The University of Reading, located west of London, England, provides world-class research education programs. The University’s main Whiteknights Campus is set in 130 hectares of beautiful parkland, a 30-minute train ride to central London and 40 minutes from London Heathrow airport.

Our School of Biological Sciences conducts high-impact research, tackling current global challenges faced by society and the planet. Our research ranges from understanding and improving human health and combating disease, through to understanding evolutionary processes and uncovering new ways to protect the natural world. In 2020, we moved into a stunning new ~£60 million Health & Life Sciences building. This state-of-the-art facility is purpose-built for science research and teaching. It houses the Cole Museum of Zoology, a café and social spaces.

In the School of Biological Sciences, you will be joining a vibrant community of ~180 PhD students representing ~40 nationalities. Our students publish in high-impact journals, present at international conferences, and organise a range of exciting outreach and public engagement activities.

During your PhD at the University of Reading, you will expand your research knowledge and skills, receiving supervision in one-to-one and small group sessions. You will have access to cutting-edge technology and learn the latest research techniques. We also provide dedicated training in important transferable skills that will support your career aspirations. If English is not your first language, the University's excellent International Study and Language Institute will help you develop your academic English skills.

The University of Reading is a welcoming community for people of all faiths and cultures. We are committed to a healthy work-life balance and will work to ensure that you are supported personally and academically.

Eligibility:

Applicants should have a good degree (minimum of a UK Upper Second (2:1) undergraduate degree or equivalent) in Biology or a strongly-related discipline.

How to apply:

Submit an application for a PhD in Biomedical Sciences at http://www.reading.ac.uk/pgapply.

Further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/biologicalsciences/SchoolofBiologicalSciences/PhD/sbs-phd.aspx

Enquiries: Dr. Eva Kevei, email:


Funding Notes

We welcome applications from self-funded students worldwide for this project.
If you are applying to an international funding scheme, we encourage you to get in contact as we may be able to support you in your application.

References

References

Tawo, R., W. Pokrzywa, E. Kevei, M. E. Akyuz, V. Balaji, S. Adrian, J. Hohfeld and T. Hoppe. ""The Ubiquitin Ligase Chip Integrates Proteostasis and Aging by Regulation of Insulin Receptor Turnover."" Cell 169, no. 3 (2017): 470-482 e13.
Franz, A., E. Kevei and T. Hoppe. ""Double-Edged Alliance: Mitochondrial Surveillance by the Ups and Autophagy."" Curr Opin Cell Biol 37, (2015): 18-27.

Kevei, E. and T. Hoppe. ""Ubiquitin Sets the Timer: Impacts on Aging and Longevity."" Nat Struct Mol Biol 21, no. 4 (2014): 290-2.

Hirschberg, S., Gisevius, B., Duscha, A. & Haghikia, A. (2019) Implications of Diet and The Gut Microbiome in Neuroinflammatory and Neurodegenerative Diseases, International journal of molecular sciences. 20.

Heintz, C. & Mair, W. (2014) You Are What You Host: Microbiome Modulation of the Aging Process, Cell. 156, 408-411."

Please view Dr Eva Kevei's academic profile: http://www.reading.ac.uk/biologicalsciences/SchoolofBiologicalSciences/Meetourteam/staff/e-g-kevei.aspx

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