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Nutritional support along the gut:lung:brain axis – targeting the human microbiome in Long-COVID.


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
UK only
Dr Anthony Buckley and Professor Kieran Tuohy
Additional supervisors
Dr Frederique Ponchel, Dr Bernadette Moore
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, it has left in its wake a toxic legacy of chronic disease in millions of people world-wide. Termed &ldquo;Long-COVID&rdquo;, symptoms include debilitating fatigue, cognitive impairment, pain, respiratory and cardiovascular issues. The condition is defined by the persistence of these symptoms for over 12 weeks post-infection, occurs at the same rate in patients who experienced both severe and mild acute disease (even asymptomatic), has a female bias and is more common in young/middle aged individuals. Although the underlying mechanisms remain to be determined, we do know that people who suffer from Long-COVID have modified immune function, including accelerated immune cell ageing, altered intestinal microbiome and poor diet.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p style="text-align:justify">This project will explore the role of the human microbiome in Long-COVID and investigate how different dietary strategies, probiotics, prebiotics and polyphenols and/or whole diet approaches, can be employed to reduce Long-COVID symptoms and modify the immune and physiological pathways underpinning this debilitating disease. Studies will involve both in vitro (advanced mini-gut models and cell models) and in vivo studies in Long-COVID sufferers. This project brings together key experts in gut microbiome, immunology and nutrition from across campus at the University of Leeds, providing a multi-disciplinary training environment delivered by expert team at the School of Food Science &amp; Nutrition and the School of Medicine. The project will take advantage of state of the art new research infrastructure in gut microbiology at the School of Food Science and Nutrition, and established patients Long-COVID networks established by the School of Medicine.&nbsp;</p> <p>We are looking for an energetic, enthusiastic and intelligent PhD candidate to deliver a project designed to improve the quality of life in Long-COVID patients and discover new scientific understanding of the mechanisms at play in Long-COVID aetiology and persistence. This is a highly multi-disciplinary project, and will involve both laboratory work and hands on experience in conducting a human dietary study. The candidate will receive expert training in intestinal microbiology, in vitro models of the gut microbiota and cultured human intestinal and immune cells, immunology, nutrition and management of human dietary interventions. The successful candidate will work alongside a team of post graduate researchers discovering new science related to how diet shapes the gut microbiota and its role in human chronic disease risk.</p> <p>You will need to bring skills of microbiology, immunology and/or nutrition 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, metabolomics, immunology and functional cognitive and physiological readouts as well as transferable skills such as creativity, communication, and critical thinking.</p>

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

<p style="text-align:justify">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;&lsquo;Nutritional support along the gut:lung:brain axis &ndash; targeting the human microbiome in Long-COVID&rsquo;&nbsp;as well as<a href="">&nbsp;Professor Kieran Tuohy&nbsp;</a>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.<br />

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

<p>School Scholarship available to UK fee-rated applicants. This award covers full tuition fees and UKRI-matching maintenance awards. In 2023/24 this is &pound;17,776.</p>

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

<p>For further information please contact the Faculty of Environment PGR Admissions Team: or&nbsp;<a href="">Professor Kieran Tuhoy</a>:&nbsp;;</p>