Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Applications Close: 02 January 2019

Salary: £31,250 to £38,100 per annum depending on qualifications and experience.

Contract Length: 3 Years

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Scientist to join the Laboratory of Fred Warren in the Food, Innovation and Health Programme at the Quadram Institute Bioscience (QIB), based in Norwich, UK. The QIB is an exciting new research institute which is at the forefront of research into links between diet, gut and microbiome, moving to a new £80 million building in early 2019.


The Food, Innovation and Health Programme within QIB is focused on the links between the chemical and physical nature of fresh and processed foods and our health. We consider the main classes of food polymers that function as both structural components and nutrients – lipids, protein, and carbohydrates, as well as ‘non-nutrient’ bioactive compounds. The programme has a particular focus on the role of dietary carbohydrates, and we take a holistic approach working from plant breeding programmes developing novel structured carbohydrate, through in vitro model systems to human intervention studies. We aim to gain mechanistic understanding of the role of carbohydrate structure in food digestion

The role

The goal of this BBSRC funded position is to determine the influence of starch structure on digestion and fermentation in the colon. Starch is a fascinating and complex biomolecule, which is one of the main sources of energy for both humans, and our microbiomes. As such, the digestion and colonic fermentation of starch has a significant impact on human health.

The carbohydrates in question are from a range of sources, including novel starches produced by breeding programmes at the nearby John Innes Centre, as well as from industrial partners. The role will involve structural characterisation of starches using a wide range of techniques which we have expertise in within the research group, including Size Exclusion Chromatography, Differential Scanning Calorimetry, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and X-Ray Diffractometry. These highly characterised starches will then be used as substrates for in vitro digestion systems to explore their small intestinal digestion rates and delivery of carbohydrate to the colon. Following in vitro digestion, these will then be used as substrates for in vitro fermentation using a model colon system.

The successful applicant will characterise fermentation by measuring gas production kinetics, and metabolites analysis using NMR and LC-MS. Additionally, the applicant will carry out 16S sequencing based analyses of microbial community composition, and we have recently begun studies using whole genome metagenomic approaches to identify starch degrading species and gene pathways.

These studies will form part of the larger Strategic Grant Programme, where the successful applicant will be expected to interact with colleagues conducting animal and human interventions in order to inform the development of these studies, and to provide in vitro/in vivo comparisons.

The ideal candidate

The ideal candidate will be highly enthusiastic and will possess a PhD in microbiology, nutrition, food science, biochemistry, or related area, and have practical experience working in this area. You will be motivated to work as part of, and contribute to, a large research programme, both leading projects and contributing to collaborative projects. Ideally you will have experience in carbohydrate structural analysis and with in vitro models of the human digestive system. Working in a large research programme, excellent organisational and communication skills are also essential, with a strong track record of high quality publications.

Additional information

Salary on appointment will be within the range £31,250 to £38,100 per annum depending on qualifications and experience.  This post is for a contract of 3 years.

Interviews will be held on 14 January 2019.

Please click here for further information or details of how to apply or contact the Human Resources team on 01603 450462 or  quoting reference 1003591.

We are committed to equal opportunities and welcome applications from all sectors of society.  The Institute supports equality of opportunity within the workplace and expects all employees to share and display these values.  To support our commitment, we have a range of family, faith and diversity friendly working arrangements to help all staff achieve excellence in their area of work.

As a Disability Confident employer, we guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for this vacancy.

The closing date for applications will be 02 January 2019.

The Quadram Institute Bioscience is a registered charity (No. 1058499) and is an Equal Opportunities Employer.