Microbiota and vascular health


Angiogenesis is the formation of blood vessels from pre-existing vessels. Angiogenesis is essential for maintaining healthy physiological processes and for the revascularisation of tissues following an injury. Our research group focuses on investigating the molecular and cellular processes that govern angiogenesis. Using antibiotics to modify the gut microbiota, we have identified a novel role for the microbiota in regulating angiogenesis; compromised microbial homeostasis inhibits developmental vascularisation of the developing mouse retina.

The goal of this PhD studentship is to determine how antibiotics that are used commonly in early life programme host responses that affect both vascular development and vascular health (e.g. response to vascular injuries). In in vivo mouse models, we will explore how antibiotics affect overall: (1) immune system programming; (2) microbiota homeostasis; (3) neo-vascularisation of the retina; and (4) responses to oxygen induced retinopathy (e.g. response to vascular injury). Importantly, we will also explore the development of live biotherapeutic products specifically designed to maintain vascular health and/or re-store microbiota/host homeostasis after antibiotic usage.

This project would give the student experience in a wide range of cross-disciplinary techniques, including working with mice, flow-cytometry, immuno-fluorescent labelling of tissue sections, shotgun whole genome sequencing (metagenomics), RNA-seq, and bio-informatics.

This project offers students an opportunity to work in a dynamic laboratory environment, in a research institute with excellent facilities and resources for undertaking a wide variety of biomedical research techniques. This opportunity for a studentship is available for exceptional candidates with an interest in cell biology, molecular biology, developmental biology, and/or vascular biology.