The number of people living beyond 75 will almost double in the next twenty years. This presents significant societal challenges particularly for public finances and the NHS as life expectancy increases at a faster rate than healthy and disability-free life expectancy. To add additional “years to life” we need a more complete understanding of the ageing process across the life course, and to identify the key players and events in its development.
This PhD studentship aims to address this by investigating how age-related changes in populations of commensal gut microbes (the intestinal microbiome) contribute to immune insufficiency (immunosenescence) and chronic inflammation (inflammaging) in old age, by evaluating microbiome targeted interventions to redress immunosenescence.
This will be achieved through the development and characterisation of a primate model of human ageing that will involve:
(1) Assessing how the intestinal microbiome changes with age in young, ageing and elderly animals using high throughput next generation sequencing and metagenomics and immune profiling and function studies to develop a comprehensive picture of the dynamics of the microbiome and immune function during healthy ageing.
(2) Evaluating bacteria-based therapy including faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), to slow or halt the progression of immunosenescence (subject to Home Office approval).
This collaborative project between the Quadram Institute (QI) and Public Health England (PHE) provides an opportunity to receive training in in vivo models, gut microbiology, cellular and molecular immunology, and in genomics and bioinformatics. This exciting project provides an opportunity to join a vibrant community of scientists and PhD students at the QI and PHE to undertake cutting edge research in ageing and the microbiome.