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Type 1 Resistant Starch: A journey through the gut (EDWARDSQ20CASE)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr C Edwards
    Prof A Narbad
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Most adults in the UK are overweight or obese, and healthier processed foods are urgently needed. One solution is to replace ‘available starch’ in the diet with ‘resistant starch’ that is not readily digested to glucose in the upper-gut, and therefore enters the colon. Edible plant-tissues from pulses are a natural source of Type 1 Resistant starch (RS1), but the dietary intake of RS1 has never been systematically documented. Furthermore, the resilience of these structures to food processing and digestion are not well understood – How do these structures escape digestion in the upper gut? What is the nature of the digested food material that enters the colon? Are the resident microbiota capable of disassembling these resistant starch structures?

In this project you will use isolated plant cells to study the digestive fate of RS1 and its impact on the microbiome that resides in the human gut.

You will use biochemical models that simulate the human gut to investigate digestive and fermentation processes. You will learn how to apply analytical techniques (LC-MS, confocal microscopy etc.) to monitor metabolite formation and structural changes, then combine this with metagenomic sequencing and bioinformatics to study the effects on the microbiome. There are further opportunities to undertake human studies and/or pursue therapeutic applications.

You will gain experience in communicating scientific results to different audiences, participate in international conferences and write manuscripts for publication in high quality journals. You will also gain exposure to strategic innovation, and research and development within a global company.

We seek an inquisitive, proactive student who is interested in food and the gut, with a degree in biochemistry, microbiology or similar subject. Whilst some knowledge of carbohydrate fermentation is highly desirable, a scientific mindset and a willingness to learn and engage in inter-disciplinary research is most essential.

This CASE project has been selected for funding by the Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on Friday 24 April 2020.

The NRPDTP offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

We strongly encourage applicants from black, Asian or other minority ethnic backgrounds and welcome applications from all protected groups as defined by the Equality Act 2010. Appointment will be made on merit.

Funding Notes

For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website: Full Studentships cover a stipend of £17,009pa (2019/0 rate: £15,009pa & £2,000pa CASE stipend), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

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