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The intestinal virome and viral immune responses in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) patients after faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) (POWELLU19ME)

Project Description

This 3 year PhD position is an exciting opportunity to work across research groups at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Quadram Institute (QI) on Norwich Research Park (NRP) and at Uppsala University in Sweden. The project is to investigate whether bacteriotherapy and manipulation of the gut microbiome can provide a possible treatment for ME/CFS, a disease associated with chronic fatigue, gut disorders and neuro-inflammation. A mechanistic insight into the causes involving alterations in the structure and function of the gut microbiota, and in particular its’ viral component (the virome), will be investigated using a clinical feasibility trail of faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) therapy in ME/CFS. The aim of this PhD project therefore to is to determine the impact FMT has on the intestinal virome and on host viral immune responses in parallel with clinical outcomes in ME/CFS patients undergoing FMT.
The project will involve microbiome and virome profiling and functionality, and pathogen discovery through bioinformatics analysis. In addition, in Uppsala patient samples will be used for metabolomic analysis and assessing the function of the transplanted microbiota. The outcome of the treatment will be assessed clinically through cognitive function and activity monitoring tests.
Working within our cross-disciplinary team, the successful applicant will learn a range of lab-based, clinical and bioinformatics techniques. They will be exposed to a vibrant community of postgraduate research students in the UEA faculty of medicine and health sciences and at QI, with shared commitment to research and good mutual co-operation between groups. They will undertake Personal and Professional Development (PPD) training offered by Norwich BioScience Institutes, including advanced research training methods and core subjects related to this project through seminars/workshops/lectures.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here
Type of programme: PhD
Start date: January 2020
Mode of study: Full-time
Studentship length: 3 years (funded 50:50 by UEA and INVEST in ME)
Entry requirements: Acceptable first degree in any biological science or bioinformatics

Funding Notes

This PhD studentship is funded by the Invest in ME. Funding comprises Home/EU fees, an annual stipend of £15,009 and a Research Training Support Grant of £1000 per annum.


i) Newberry F, Hsieh SY, Wileman T, Carding SR (2018) Does the microbiome and virome contribute to myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome? Clin Sci (Lond). 2018 Mar 9;132(5):523-542.
ii) Cairns R, Hotopf M. (2005) A systematic review describing the prognosis of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Occup Med (Lond). 55(1):20-31
iii) Carding S, Verbeke K, Vipond DT, Corfe BM, Owen LJ.2015 Dysbiosis of the gut microbiota in disease. Microb Ecol Health Dis.;26:2619

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