PhD Studentship, Characterisation of the Gut Microbiome in Dogs and Cats

Birmingham, United Kingdom
31 Jan 2019
End of advertisement period
01 Mar 2019
Academic Discipline
Life sciences, Biological Sciences
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Life and Health Sciences - Studentships

Location:  Aston University Main Campus
Contract Type:  Fixed Term (3 Years)
Basis:  Full Time
Closing Date:  23.59 hours GMT on Friday 01 March 2019
Interview Date:  To be confirmed    

Professor Anthony Hilton, Aston University

Dr Zoe Marshall-Jones, The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition

Dr Zoe Lonsdale, The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition

Applications are invited from ambitious, self-motivated candidates to conduct research for a PhD in exploring the microbiome of dogs and cats. The successful candidate will join the active research environment of the Cell & Tissue Biomedical Research Group at Aston University. This opportunity is open to UK and EU students who have at least an Upper Second-Class Honours degree in Biology / Microbiology / Biomedical Science or a related subject, and or a Masters in Biological Science with clear evidence of research methods training and competence. 

Recent advances in high throughput sequencing techniques have facilitated the description of the microbiome with a wide range of applications. Current platforms enable the full molecular description of complex microbial communities and have furthered our understanding of the host microbiome interaction and the influence of the microbiota on health. This understanding has been extended to pet health, however knowledge is often limited to molecular analyses of abundance (of genes or taxa) providing limited understanding of bacterial metabolism and function. 

The student will work towards furthering our understanding of the faecal microbiome of dogs and cats as an indicator of the gut microbiome. Faeces will be profiled for the bacterial taxa present in a population of healthy dogs and cats exposed to a common diet. Associated demographic information, such as species, breed and gender will also be investigated to understand whether these factors influence the microbiome in pet animals. In addition to characterising the faecal microbiome, cultivable populations will also be investigated and further characterised using phenotypic assays to assess characteristics of the microbiome associated with the same demographics described above.

Aston University was ranked in 5th of 94 UK Higher Education Institutions for research in Allied Health Professions (REF 2014) and was ranked 1st for research environment. Additional information about research in the School can be found at

Financial Support:

The studentship comprises of the current RCUK tax-free stipend of £14,777 p.a. and payment of Home/EU tuition fees only. The studentship is available for three years, subject to satisfactory progress review at the end of the first year with an anticipated registration date of April 2019

Application Requirements:

Eligible Applicants should hold at least a Bachelor (Hons.) Degree of either 1st Class/ 2.1 or MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline.

  • EU Applicants will need to demonstrate adequate proficiency in English Language skills, with a minimum overall score of 93 (Internet Based) (with a minimum score in each section of: R: 18W: 23, L: 19 and S: 19) in TOEFL or IELTS with minimum marks of 6.0 in each section and an overall band of 6.5.
  • The successful candidate will be expected to undertake research at the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition for a period of up to 3-months as required.
  • Informal enquiries should be addressed to Professor Anthony Hilton (E-mail:; Telephone: 0121 204 3960).
  • To apply please complete the on-line application format ‘Research Full-time Biomedical Sciences – April 2019) quoting reference: PhD_April 2019_Hilton on all applications.