Phytosterols and stanols are fat soluble bioactive molecules found in nuts, seeds and grains, and are effective at reducing serum cholesterol, a key risk factor in developing coronary heart disease. Their mechanisms of action is not clear, but it is thought to involve the complex trafficking of these molecules between different lipid structures created in the gut during digestion. The aim of this project is to understand how phytosterols affect the digestion of fat and the transport of cholesterol in the gut, so we can improve the functionality of these vital nutrients. During digestion, lipids are broken down, leading to the formation of different structures as digestion progresses. The form of these structures will depend on dietary composition and individual digestive secretions.
The aim is to use a range of in vitro biochemical and spectroscopic methods to understand how the structure, composition and chemistry of these lipid structures determines the solubility and functionality of different phytosterols and stanols. We will also use advanced NMR spectroscopy methods that are sensitive to short range interactions between molecules in order to probe local interactions and structures. The objective here would be to determine how the environment within the lipid structures is affected by the phytosterols, and how this could change the behaviour of the structures and control absorption and bioavailability.
The student would receive a broad range of training in the biochemistry of digestion, colloid science and a range of NMR spectroscopies across the Norwich Research Park, in the context of human digestion, nutrition and health at the Quadram Institute. The knowledge generated could help formulate foods with improved cholesterol lowering properties.
This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 9th, 10th or 11th January 2018.
The Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.
For further information, please visit the NRPDTP website: http://www.biodtp.norwichresearchpark.ac.uk
Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,553pa – 2017/8), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.
Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements. Details on eligibility for funding on the BBSRC website: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/web/FILES/Guidelines/studentship_eligibility.pdf