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Trans-generational transmission of obesity and obesity-induced liver disease – a role for maternal microbiota and Toll-like receptors

Project Description

The United Kingdom adult population prevalence of obesity is 30% and with 30% of children - overweight or obese. Additionally, 26% of women of reproductive age are obese and one in five pregnant women is obese. We have recently shown, that the offspring of obese mothers have increased appetite, body weights, fat mass and markers of obesity-induced liver disease (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, NAFLD) compared with offspring of lean mothers. Our results have been confirmed in humans such that the children of obese mothers show increased obesity and NAFLD. NAFLD is predicted to become the commonest cause of liver cirrhosis/failure and transplantation within the next decade or less. The precise mechanism by which this trans-generational transmission of obesity and NAFLD occur remains unclear.

Obesity and NAFLD are known to develop at least partially in response to gut bacteria. Commensal bacteria are transferred between co-housed animals and can cause the transmission of both obesity and NAFLD traits. Therefore, it is likely that the transmission of obesity from mother to offspring during the peri-natal and post-natal periods is at least partially via the transmission of maternal commensal micro-organisms to the new born. This has recently been strongly supported through the use of germ-free mice and their colonisation with stools from the offspring of obese human subjects. We now seek to study this further using agents that target the pathways through which the gut microbiota act.

How to Apply

To apply to the MRC DTP iCASE Studentships visit our webpages ( to submit an online application via King’s Apply. Further information can be found on our ‘Frequently asked Questions’ pages (

Industrial Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (iCASE) Studentships
This PhD project is fully-funded PhD 4 year position available to start in October 2019, with the successful candidate joining the MRC Doctoral Training Partnership. They will start immediately on their PhD project in October 2019 and will participate in all other training and cohort activities of the MRC DTP.

About Us

The objective of our Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP - is to select motivated and curiosity-driven students and provide them with outstanding training, tailored flexibly to their individual needs and interests. We will equip them with the intellectual and technical skills that are needed for undertaking cutting-edge biomedical research and complement this with key transferable skills (including public engagement, business development and entrepreneurship) to ensure that they emerge as well-rounded scientists, prepared for their next career stage (whether in research or outside). Our excellent clinical setting will ensure all students benefit from an understanding of the context of medical research, helping develop scientists with a strong translational ethos.

The MRC funding available supports Home/EU students within standard research council restrictions ( EU students are only eligible for a full studentship if they have lived, worked or studied within the UK for 3 years prior to the funding commencing. Unfortunately, we cannot accept applications from non-EU candidates.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with .

Applications Open: Monday 4th March
Application Deadline: Friday 5th April

Funding Notes

This studentship is fully funded for 4 years, including tuition fees, stipend, research consumables and conference travel:

Stipend: Students will receive a tax-free stipend for each year of study; for 2019/2020 this will be £19,509 per annum.

Bench fees: A generous allowance (£6,700) is provided for research consumables and for attending UK and international conferences. MRC DTP iCASE Students will also be eligible to apply for the Flexible Supplement Fund.

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