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Doctoral student in a lab

Influence of microbiota-associated metabolites on cancer cell survival and gene expression

  • School: School of Science and Technology
  • Starting: 2021
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Self-funded

Overview

The human microbiota (the collection of microorganisms that live on and in the human body) plays an important role in human health and disease. The gut microbiota, and in particular the metabolites produced by gut bacteria [microbiota-associated metabolites (MAMs)], play important roles in human physiology as they can be taken up from the gut and enter the circulation. Circulating MAMs have been shown to influence metabolic diseases such as type II diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and obesity, and modulate integrity of the blood–brain barrier. Specific members of the gut microbiota have been shown to influence efficacy of cancer immunotherapies or immune checkpoint blockade in different cancer types. There is also the potential for MAMs to have wide-ranging effects on a variety of human cancers including the initiation, disease progression and response to therapy. However, our understanding of the influence of the gut microbiota on human cancer is still in its infancy.

This research programme will identify key MAMs influencing cancer cell survival and investigate any influence on chemotherapeutic response and other relevant stressors (e.g. hypoxia). Transcriptomic changes and key pathways/genes will be identified using RNA-seq and further work will aim to uncover biological mechanisms involved.  Understanding the mechanisms by which circulating MAMs influence cancer cell survival and response to chemotherapy is likely to uncover novel pathways related to cancer cell survival and disease progression which could lead to novel therapeutic options or biomarkers for disease response.

This project will build on the work of Dr Amanda Coutts and Professor Lesley Hoyles within the Centre for Health, Ageing and Understanding Disease (CHAUD), which encourages multidisciplinary research and has a diverse and supportive postgraduate community (https://www.ntu.ac.uk/research/groups-and-centres/centres/centre-for-health,-ageing-and-understanding-disease-chaud). You would be based on the Clifton Campus of Nottingham Trent University (NTU). In addition to attending weekly lab meetings where you would have the opportunity to present your work, you would be encouraged to present your work at national and international scientific conferences and to publish your research findings in peer-reviewed journals. You would also receive additional relevant training through events and activities organised through NTU's Doctoral School and the School of Science and Technology.

Entry requirements

Applicants should hold, or be expected to hold, an UK Master’s degree (or UK equivalent according to NARIC) with a minimum of a commendation, and/or a UK 1stClass / 2.1 Bachelor’s Honour’s Degree (or UK equivalent according to NARIC) in Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, or a related Biosciences related subject.

How to apply

Applications are accepted all year round. For a step-by-step guide and to make an application, please visit our how to apply page.

Fees and Funding

This is a self funded project. Visit our funding page to find out ways to fund your project.

Entry qualifications

Applicants should hold, or be expected to hold, an UK Master’s degree (or UK equivalent according to NARIC) with a minimum of a commendation, and/or a UK 1stClass / 2.1 Bachelor’s Honour’s Degree (or UK equivalent according to NARIC) in Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, or a related Biosciences related subject.

How to apply

The application deadline is all year round. For a step-by-step guide and to make an application, please visit our how to apply page.

Fees and funding

This is a self-funded project only. To find our ways on how to fund your project, visit our scholarships, bursaries and funding page.

For more information about fees, visit our fees page.

Guidance and support

Further guidance and support on how to apply can be found on this page.

Still need help?

Dr Amanda Coutts