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Role of food additives in gastrointestinal diseases


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Source of funding
Dr Anthony Buckley
Additional supervisors
Professor Lesley Houghton, Dr Suparna Mitra
School of Food Science and Nutrition, School of Medicine
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Understanding more about how the food we eat can influence our health is vital in our efforts to control disease. We have a particular interest in the human gut microbiota. As well as containing at least as many microbial cells as human cells in our body, the gut microbiota is only just being recognised as playing a vital role in our health - affecting everything from mental well-being to diseases, such as diabetes. Food additives, such as emulsifiers, are used more frequently in the food industry, especially in ultra-processed foods. However, the increased use of food additives is associated with an increase in organic gastrointestinal diseases, such as Crohn&rsquo;s disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.<br /> This project cuts across microbiology and medicine at the University of Leeds and brings a unique environment for your PhD study. The Healthcare-Associated Infection Research Group has been developing models of the human gut for 25 years and has created a unique laboratory gut model system with which to study food-microbe interactions. This next-generation model system mimics the physiochemical features of the human colon. Recent investment has increased our molecular, next generation sequencing, and metabolite discovery capabilities. For the past 5 years, a strong collaboration between School of Food Science and Nutrition and the School of Medicine has brought together expertise in human gut microbiota, bioinformatics, and both organic and functional gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome.<br /> This PhD will establish mechanistic insights into the role of food emulsifiers upon the human microbiota and the impact this has on the intestinal health. To do this, we will use a combination of gut model studies and molecular characterisation to understand the direct effects of emulsifiers on the human microbiota. Ultimately, your findings will be tested in a small human dietary trial assess the changes to the intestinal function, using readouts such as microbiome changes, transit time fluctuations, and colonic permeability. This will add scientific understanding of food-microbiota interactions and form the basis of therapeutic options to counter any detrimental effects.<br /> You will need to bring skills of molecular microbiology and analysis with a willingness to work across traditional boundaries. In return, you will find yourself in a rich environment to learn new multidisciplinary techniques - for example next-generation sequencing analysis, data processing and functional gastric readouts as well as transferable skills such as creativity, communication, and critical thinking.<br />

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is <strong>&lsquo;Role of food additives in gastrointestinal diseases&rsquo;</strong> as well as <a href="">Dr Anthony Buckley</a>&nbsp;as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

For the School of Food Science and Nutrition will accept the following qualifications and scores:<br /> <br /> IELTS - an overall band of 6.5 with no individual skill band below 6.0 in all components<br /> iBT TOEFL - (Internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language): a score of 92 overall with Listening 21; Reading 21; Speaking 23; Writing 22.<br /> Other English Language qualifications may be acceptable, please contact us to find out more. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>This is an unfunded PhD project opportunity &ndash;&nbsp;please see details of the <a href="">PhD fees</a> for the School of Food Science and Nutrition&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>To discuss the project please contact <a href="">Dr Anthony Buckley</a></p> <p>e: <a href=""></a></p> <p>t:&nbsp; <a href="tel:+44 (0)113 392 8663">+44 (0)113 392 8663</a></p> <p>For further information please contact the Graduate School Office<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>