Funded PhD Opportunity Biofortified meat: A potential vehicle for vitamin D enrichment and fortification (Bio-D Project)

This opportunity is now closed.

This project is funded by: Devenish Nutrition Ltd Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI)

Subject: Biomedical Sciences

Summary

Evidence of both low dietary intakes of vitamin D, as well as poor vitamin D status is frequently reported in nationally representative population surveys. Preventing vitamin D deficiency is of vital public health importance due to its multifactorial roles in the human body, but most importantly for optimal musculoskeletal health. Our main source of vitamin D is endogenous synthesis following exposure to the UV-B light from the summer sun. With today’s modern lifestyles, however, it has become evident that this may not be an effective means of maintaining an adequate vitamin D status across the year. Therefore, we are reliant on topping up our body’s stores with food sources of vitamin D (both natural and fortified sources) and/or dietary supplements.

In 2011, the update of the Dietary Reference Intakes for calcium and vitamin D by the US Institute of Medicine prompted the re-evaluation of dietary reference values (DRV’s) for vitamin D in many other countries. Previously in the UK, there were no set DRV’s for vitamin D for the majority of the population (aged 4-64 years), as it was believed that adequate amounts could be synthesised from the sun. Such DRV’s were only in place for certain ‘at-risk’ groups, including infants/young children, elderly adults, and pregnant/lactating females (7-10µg/day). After considering the latest research, the Vitamin D Working Group of the UK’s Scientific Advisory Committee for Nutrition (SACN)(5) has recommended a Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for vitamin D of 10µg/day for everyone aged 4+ years. For infants (0-11 months) and children (1-4 years) old, a safe intake of 8.5–10µg/day has been advised.

Given the habitually low dietary intakes of vitamin D typically reported (2-4µg/day), and the generally low uptake of supplementation, it is clear that alternative food-based strategies are required to help the UK population meet these revised DRV’s. There is increasing evidence to support the role of vitamin D food fortification in maintaining or improving the vitamin D status of the consumer, and indeed, both mandatory policies and voluntary fortification practices are in place for a range of staple food products across the world. Emerging research, including studies lead by the current project team, have provided preliminary evidence on an innovative method to increase the vitamin D content of animal foods (pork, poultry, milk) by manipulating animal feeding and/or housing regimes. We are now ready to determine the effectiveness of these novel biofortification strategies as an innovative way to boost the vitamin D content of commonly consumed foods to help consumers meet the revised DRV’s for vitamin D.

This CAST award will involve four multidisciplinary and interrelated projects:

1.On-farm vitamin D biofortification of pork

2.Consumer acceptability of vitamin D-enriched meat products

3.Human trials designed to examine the bioavailability of vitamin D from the novel meat products (pork and poultry) and determine its efficacy to increase consumers’ vitamin D status

4.Dietary modelling to determine the efficacy of novel vitamin D-enriched meat products as a vehicle for vitamin D fortification in UK/Irish consumers

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Research project completion within taught Masters degree or MRES
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Publications - peer-reviewed
  • Experience of presentation of research findings

Funding

This project is funded by: Devenish Nutrition Ltd Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI)

The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the home rate and, for applicants with UK residence only, a maintenance allowance of not less than £15,480 per annum for three years. EU residents may also apply but if successful will receive fees only.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

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Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 19 February 2018
Interview Date
6, 7 and 8 March 2018

Contact Supervisor

Dr Kirsty Pourshahidi

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit https://www.ulster.ac.uk/applyonline and quote reference number #240997 when applying for this PhD opportunity