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Structural Dynamics of Biomolecules during Bioprocessing Using In-vitro Models


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Project start date
Sunday 1 January 2023
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Source of funding
Dr Amin Sadeghpour Dilmaghani
Additional supervisors
Prof Anwesha Sarkar; Prof Alan Mackie
School of Food Science and Nutrition
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Digestion is a complex bioprocess leading to energy and nutrients absorption from food, supplements, and drug systems. It is a dynamic process with a wide range of biological reactions controlling physiological degradation of biomacromolecules like proteins and polysaccharides. It also involves molecular assembly and structure formation by amphiphilic molecules such as lipids, peptides and biopolymers. Examples include monoglycerides self-assembly into lyotropic liquid crystalline phases as the result of fat hydrolysis.<br /> The changes in food morphology and molecular organisations during bioprocessing control the absorption and bioavailability of drugs and nutraceuticals. Particularly, the structural evolutions are often facilitated by enzymes whose activity is interfered not only by other physiological metabolites such as bile acids, but also by vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibres coming from food ingestion. Understanding such structural changes on the nanoscale can lead to addressing grand challenges in low bioavailability of nutraceuticals and developing smart food and nutraceuticals delivery formulations.<br /> This project aims to elucidate the role of bioactive molecules on the enzymatic activity underlying bioprocessing of lipid-based systems. In-situ digestion models will be developed and integrated into X-ray analytical instrument using microfluidic technology. In-vitro digestion model will simulate the gastric environment while microfluidics will help to deliver interacting molecules into the X-ray beam environment in a controlled manner. The state of the art Diamond-Leeds X-ray facility (Diamond Light Source, Didcot, UK) will be used and the structural dynamics will be understood by serial recording of the small and wide angle X-ray scattering (SAXS-WAXS) patterns. The patterns will be processed using advanced theoretical approaches such as global analysis and Fourier reconstruction methods. 3-dimentional electron density profiles will be deduced, helping to visualise detailed structural evolutions of food and pharmaceutical systems in real space. The microfluidic setup will additionally help to achieve early-stage dynamics controlled by interactions with bioactive molecules. As the result, the dynamical studies will cover a broad time-scale, i.e. from sub-second to several hours, helping us to develop detailed understanding about bioprocesses and underlying interactions in nanoscale. The outcomes will support us in developing smart formulations for functional foods and designing new pharmaceuticals delivery systems. <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&nbsp;<span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><strong>Structural Dynamics of Biomolecules during Bioprocessing Using In-vitro Models</strong> </span></span></span>as well as&nbsp;<strong><a href="">Dr Amin Sadeghpour</a></strong> 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 in the School of Food Science and Nutrition should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline, or a good honours degree together with a Masters degree.<br /> <br /> 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>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study in the School of Food Science and Nutrition is:<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 /> 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&nbsp;position is unfunded so we are&nbsp;seeking a candidate who could be either&nbsp;<strong>self-funded</strong>, has been <strong>awarded&nbsp;a scholarship</strong> <strong>to conduct a PhD in the UK</strong>, or<strong> an applicant who is applying for&nbsp;a&nbsp;scholarship they have already identifed.</strong></p>

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

<p>For information about the project please contact <a href="">Dr Amin Sadeghpour</a>.</p> <p>For further information please contact the Graduate School Office <strong></strong>.&nbsp;</p>