The human body plays host to large complex microbial communities that collectively make up the human microbiome. The microbiome includes microbial populations associated with the skin, the oral and vaginal mucosae and, most prominently, the gut that are essential for promoting and maintaining life-long health. Large population-wide cohort studies have identified health, lifestyle (environment, diet, medication) and behaviour as contributors to the development and maintenance of a health promoting gut microbiome. However, few microbiome studies to date have attempted to account for, and to control, different living conditions and environments and fluctuating lifestyles, diet, and levels of physical and mental activity and stress. In addition, most studies to date have relied on a single sample and time point of analysis to demonstrate changes in gut microbe populations.
This PhD aims to address these major constraints of human microbiome studies. The successful candidate will have a unique opportunity to access large cohorts of military populations, taking advantage of their structured and disciplined training environment and lifestyle, to investigate:
1. How changes in the human gut microbiota might influence and/or be linked to adopting a rigid and disciplined lifestyle.
2. To determine how the human gut microbiota changes in response to physical and/or mental challenges and identify any correlates of physical and cognitive performance.
The successful candidate will identify appropriate time points to take biological samples and apply suitable tests to assess gut microbiota changes, physical and cognitive performance and other relevant psychological states/characteristics.
This collaborative PhD project between the Quadram Institute (QI), the Defence Science Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Army provides an opportunity for the candidate to develop their skills in microbiome research including gut microbiology, genomics and bioinformatics, in addition to acquiring skills in human physiology and psychology research methods. The project provides an exciting opportunity for a graduate with an interest in the human microbiome and investigating its impact on human physiology, health and performance to join a vibrant community of scientists and PhD students at the QI, Dstl and the Army to undertake cutting edge research into human performance and the gut microbiome. Candidates must be willing to work on an interdisciplinary project which will involve learning and applying research methods outside of their immediate qualification / discipline. Due to the project’s close ties with the UK defence community, this 3.5year studentship is available to UK nationals only and security clearance will be required.
For further information and to apply, please visit our website: https://quadram.ac.uk/about/student-opportunities/how-to-apply/