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The influence of diet on gene expression at the single cell level

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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  Dr C Breuker, Dr Korneel Hens, Dr J Solana  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Oxford Brookes University

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences 

3 Year, full-time funded PhD Studentship

Project Title: The influence of diet on gene expression at the single cell level  

Director of Studies: Dr Casper Breuker

Other supervisors: Dr Korneel Hens, Dr Jordi Solana

Project Description:

Why do we fancy a sugary desert but not a dry piece of bread after a large meal? Why do we continue eating when no longer hungry? In a world struggling with obesity, it is crucial to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in food choice. This is an exciting opportunity to join the labs of Dr Korneel Hens and Dr Jordi Solana to study these processes using state-of-the-art single-cell sequencing techniques. Nutritional homeostasis involves adjusting feeding behaviour and post-digestive physiology to balance food intake with energy expenditure. Regulation of gene expression plays an important role by modulating diverse biological pathways such as nutrient sensing, feeding behaviour, reward signalling and metabolism. Single cell analysis methods have emerged as a powerful tool for investigating gene regulation with single cell resolution. One of the most recent methods is ACME dissociation and SPLiT-seq. This method allows fixing and dissociating cells, preserving their physiological gene expression patterns, and obtaining thousands of single cell transcriptomic profiles. We will generate samples of two different lab model organisms exposed to several dietary regimes. First, we will study the brain of the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster. We will use ACME and SPLiT-seq to identify neuronal populations that are involved in the transcriptional response to changes in diet. We will also use the freshwater planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. Planarians have the ability of growing while fed, but, most interestingly, shrinking when starved. Using ACME and SPLiT-seq we have already identified putative energy storing cell types, as well as multiple neuronal cell populations.

Contact[Email Address Removed]


Applicants should have a first or upper second-class honours degree from a Higher Education Institution or acceptable equivalent qualification in biological science or related discipline. Non-UK Applicants must have a valid IELTS Academic test certificate (or equivalent) with an overall minimum score of 7.0 and no score below 6.0 issued in the last 2 years by an approved test centre. 

The studentship requires you to undertake 6 hours teaching per week during semester time.

How to apply: Applicants should email [Email Address Removed]  to request an application form. 



Funding Notes

Eligibility: Home, EU and International applicants
Closing date: 8 April 2022
Start Date: September 2022
Bursary p.a.: Bursary equivalent to UKRI national minimum stipend plus fees (2022/23 bursary rate is £16,062)
University Fees and Bench fees: will be met by the University for the 3 years of the funded Studentship.
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