Metabolism of the human gut symbiont Ruminoccocus gnavus at the mucosal surface (JUGE_Q21DTP)

Applications Close: 23 November 2020

Salary: stipend rate: £15,285

Contract Length: 4 years

This PhD studentship provides an exciting opportunity for the successful candidate to address fundamental questions on the spatial adaptation and metabolism of gut symbionts and acquire state-of-the art in both in silico and in vivo approaches.

The human body harbours a diverse and dense population of commensal bacteria which exert key functions in terms of human health. However, the development of microbiome-targeted therapies to restore human health is currently hampered by a lack of mechanistic understanding of bacterial metabolism at the strain and niche level therefore limiting targeted approaches to achieve a clinically-desired effect. This work will define mechanisms of adaptation of key human gut symbionts to mucus and explore mucin glycan metabolism as novel strategies to target beneficial microbes at the strain level.

The PhD student will join a dynamic multidisciplinary team at the Quadram Institute Bioscience and receive mentoring and training in relevant experimental models and state-of-the art bioinformatics tools. Through this PhD studentship, the student will acquire expertise in microbiology and glycobiology and in computational and in vivo skills.

The student will benefit from the established network of international collaborations of the host Labs in this research area. Training will embrace research practice and theory, management, communication (to scientific and lay audiences), intellectual property, teamwork and technical writing. The student will present their work to internal seminars and to relevant Microbiology International meetings. The possible commercial issues relating to the impact of this research on human health will be highlighted and the student will be encouraged to participate into outreach activities and innovative competitions.


Bell A, Brunt J, Crost E, Vaux L, Nepravishta R, Owen CD, Latousakis D, Xiao A, Li W, Chen X, Walsh MA, Claesen J, Angulo J, Thomas GH, Juge N. Elucidation of a sialic acid metabolism pathway in mucus-foraging Ruminococcus gnavus unravels mechanisms of bacterial adaptation to the gut. Nat Microbiol. 2019;4(12):2393-2404

Singh D, Lercher MJ.Network reduction methods for genome-scale metabolic models. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2020 Feb;77(3):481-488. doi: 10.1007/s00018-019-03383-z.

Bell A, Severi E, Lee MO, Monaco S, Latousakis D, Angulo J, Thomas GH, Naismith J, Juge N.Uncovering a novel molecular mechanism for scavenging sialic acids in bacteria.J Biol Chem. 2020 Jul 15:jbc.RA120.014454.

Entry Requirements:

At least UK equivalence Bachelors (Honours) 2:1 or UK equivalence Master’s degree. English Language requirement (Faculty of Science equivalent: IELTS 6.5 overall, 6 in each category).


This project is awarded with a 4-year Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) PhD studentship. The studentship includes payment of tuition fees (directly to the University), a stipend for each year of the studentship (2020/21 stipend rate: £15,285), and a Research Training Support Grant for each year of the studentship of £5,000 p.a..

About The Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP)

The Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) is open to UK and international candidates for entry October 2021 and offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year PhD 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 placement (PIPS) during their study. The placement 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.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the NRPDTP programme. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on Thursday 7th January, Friday 8th January and Monday 11th January 2021.

Visit our website for further information on eligibility and how to apply:

Our partners value diverse and inclusive work environments that are positive and supportive. Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.