PhD Studentship, Microbiota Modulatory Foods for Improving Sleep via the Gut CLOCK, PROSLEEP

Southampton, United Kingdom
£15,609.00 plus UK fees
Thursday, 6 May 2021
End of advertisement period
Monday, 31 May 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Human Development and Health

Location:  Southampton General Hospital
Closing Date:  Monday 31 May 2021
Reference:  1337421AF

Lead Institute / Faculty: University of Southampton / Faculty of Medicine

Main Supervisor: Professor Jonathan Swann

Other members of the supervisory team: Dr Caroline Childs, Professor Kieran Tuohy (FEM)

 Amount of stipend and fees: £15,609.00 plus UK fees

 Duration of the award: 36 months, full time.

 Project description: 

Disrupted sleep is recognised as a risk factor of poor metabolic health and cardiovascular risk. Recent research has identified an important role for the gut microbiota in regulating not just the gut CLOCK, but circadian rhythms systemically via metabolites produced within the gastrointestinal tract including GABA, short chain fatty acids, bile acids, serotonin, dopamine and vitamin B12. Moreover, many of these same metabolites regulate inflammation and cellular metabolism, two processes intricately linked to cardiovascular risk. This project will screen a panel of probiotic strains and prebiotics (n<10) for their ability to produce molecules linked to cell signalling processes in the gut and systemically related to regulation of circadian rhythm, inflammation and energy metabolism. Metabolite production will be assessed using existing targeted analysis for short chain fatty acids, bile acids and amino acid metabolism by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Three bacterial strains will be further investigated for their ability to regulate CLOCK genes, inflammatory pathways and energy metabolism using intestinal cell models. Finally, we will perform a pilot human study examining how probiotics impact on sleep compared to a placebo.

Please contact:  Professor Jonathan Swann,

Person Specification:   See below.

An opportunity has arisen for a PhD studentship to join our laboratory in the Faculty of Medicine, School of Human Development and Health based at Southampton University Hospital Trust. The successful candidate will join a collaborative team with international reputations in the fields of gastrointestinal microbiology, metabolic phenotyping, and nutrition, including researchers from the Fondazione Edmund Mach research institute in Trento, Italy, and Optibiotix Health PLC. As part of this multidisciplinary project the student will be trained in microbiological techniques, analytical chemistry (mass spectrometry, NMR spectroscopy), and multivariate statistical analysis. The successful candidate should have experience in one or more of the following fields, analytical chemistry, bioinformatics, microbiology, biomedical sciences, nutrition, and/or chronobiology. The successful candidate will be required to perform experiments at the Fondazione Edmund Mach research institute in Trento, Italy (spanning two 6-month placements).

The successful candidate is likely to have the following qualifications:

  • A 1stor 2:1 degree in a relevant discipline and/or second degree with a related Masters

Administrative contact and how to apply:

Please complete the University's online application form, which you can find at

You should enter Professor Jonathan Swann as your proposed supervisor. To support your application provide an academic CV (including contact details of two referees), official academic transcripts and a personal statement (outlining your suitability for the studentship, what you hope to achieve from the PhD and your research experience to date).

Informal enquiries relating to the project or candidate suitability should be directed to Professor Jonathan Swann (

Closing date: 31st May 2021
Interview date: 14th June 2021 

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