Projects

We are currently advertising DTP and CASE studentships for October 2019 start. The deadline for applications is the 26th November 2018.

27 / 09 / 2018

The journey of plant cells through the human gut (EDWARDS_Q19DTP1)

how to apply

We are looking for a talented and motivated PhD candidate with a background in biochemistry, microbiology or related subject and a keen interest in nutrition and health to investigate the mechanisms behind the health effects of Type 1 Resistant Starch.

Despite various interventions, obesity and type 2 diabetes is still increasing in the UK, and healthier staple foods are urgently needed. Starch accounts for 30-70% of daily energy (‘calorie’) intake and is therefore an important target nutrient. Resistant Starch Type 1 (RS1) is a form of starch that is entrapped within plant cells and other food structures and hence escapes digestion in the small intestine.  RS1 exists naturally in pulses and other plant-based foods and is of interest because it has a low glycaemic impact and is fermented by the colonic microbiota, however there is limited understanding of its digestion and health effects.

In this project you will employ the latest in vitro digestion models to investigate the digestive fate of plant cell structures containing RS1 as they pass through digestive conditions of the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract. These models enable the digestion and microbial breakdown of RS1 to be studied and provide new insights into how RS1 fractions may promote colonic and systemic health.

This exciting, multidisciplinary PhD project is based in the research labs of Dr Edwards and Prof Narbad at Quadram Institute Bioscience on the Norwich Research Park, which provides a stimulating environment for research on food, health and the microbiome. It provides excellent opportunities to develop laboratory skills in a range of physical and biochemical techniques, microbiology, and bioinformatics. Depending on the candidate’s skills and interests, there is also scope for dietary intervention studies with human participants, and/or for pursuing therapeutic applications.