Funded PhD Opportunity Gut microbiome resilience – is the emergence of intest pathobionts determined by poor diet?”

This opportunity is now closed.

This project is funded by: Fondazione Edmund Mach

Subject: Biomedical Sciences


Diets rich in fruit and vegetables are associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases.  Diet is also known to alter both the composition of the gut microbiome and the bioactivity of faecal water. Consequently, a diverse diet is important as it will modulate microbiome diversity and metabolic capability; this may increase resistance to dysbiosis and the emergence of gut pathogens such as Clostridium difficile. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables results in greater molecular diversity in terms of types and quantities of dietary fibers and (poly)phenols consumed.

We will explore the relationship between diet and gut microbiome resilience, determining whether the emergence of intestinal pathobionts is effected by diet quality. We hypothesize that diet-derived compounds and/or their microbial metabolites will modify the colonic milieu and alter the pathogenicity of these microbes.

This project, which will require the candidate to spend significant time at both Ulster University and at FEM laboratories, will provide training in state of the art in vitro models, metagenomics and targeted metabolomics, and measure how both nutrient diversity and exposure to antibiotics impacts on key metabolic processes mediated by microbial guilds responsible for stable network regulation within the gut microbiome. Using the latest advanced ecological models, we will generate new understanding of how diet can be used to support microbiome homeostasis and self-regulation and prevent the emergence of pathobionts like C. difficile, a significant gut pathogen especially in the elderly.

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement


This project is funded by: Fondazione Edmund Mach

This scholarship is co-funded by Fondazione Edmund Mach and Ulster University. The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 14,777 per annum for three years. Non-home/EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Launch of the Doctoral College

Current PhD researchers and an alumnus shared their experiences, career development and the social impact of their work at the launch of the Doctoral College at Ulster University.

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My experience has been great and the people that I have worked with have been amazing

Kieran O'Donnell - 3D printing of biological cells for tissue engineering applications

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Completing the MRes provided me with a lot of different skills, particularly in research methods and lab skills.

Michelle Clements Clements - MRes - Life and Health Sciences

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Throughout my PhD I’ve been provided with continuous support and guidance by my supervisors and the staff at the University.I’ve also received many opportunities to further enhance my professional development in the form of teaching experience and presenting my work at conferences which will aid in my pursuit of a career in academia or industry.

William Crowe

Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Wednesday 17 October 2018
Interview Date

Contact Supervisor

Dr Chris Gill

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #288649 when applying for this PhD opportunity