Modulating the microbiota to improve vaccine responses

Applications Close: 30 May 2019

Contract Length: 4 years

We are looking for a creative and motivated PhD candidate to join a dynamic, multi-disciplinary research team investigating the early life (infant) microbiota and host interactions. This position is within Dr Lindsay Hall’s lab at the Quadram Institute Bioscience, a new interdisciplinary research institute at the forefront of a new era in gut microbes, food and health research, thus providing an excellent platform for a starting scientific career.

Background: The resident gut microbiota plays an important role in the modulation of both local and systemic immune responses. However, the impact of the microbiome composition on vaccine efficacy remains a limited area of study. Significant differences exist in the induction of vaccine responses in geographically distinct populations, which may be linked to host genetics, nutritional state, exposure to related infectious agents and critically also differences in the resident microbiota. Notably, randomised clinical trials have shown that some probiotic strains, including Bifidobacterium, are able to increase specific immune responses against vaccine antigens. These findings suggest that the presence of specific microbiota members could contribute to a greater vaccine efficacy.

The goal of this PhD studentship is to use microbiology and immunology techniques to identify mechanisms underlying microbiota-vaccination responses and how microbiota therapies may help to augment vaccines responses in different infant cohorts. This studentship represents an excellent training module for a wide range of microbiology, immunology and some bioinformatic techniques utilising pre-clinical and clinical samples.

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. The successful candidate can expect to be interviewed on Thursday 13 June 2019.

The NRP DTP 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 and to apply, please visit our website:


Funding Notes

For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website: Full Studentships cover a stipend (UKRI rate: £15,009pa – 2019/20), 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. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.