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PhD studentship: A single gene deficiency (TIMP-3) affects the regulation of metabolism and nutrition – harnessing the gut microbiome

Clinical and Experimental Sciences

Location:  Southampton General Hospital
Closing Date:  Friday 09 November 2018
Reference:  1012218FC

Main Supervisor: Dr Sylvia L F Pender (Clinical and Experimental Sciences)

Other members of the supervisory team:    Dr Felino R Cagampang (Human Development and Health)

                                                                        Professor Kenneth Lee (CUHK)

Duration of the award: 36 months, full time

Proposed starting date: 1st December 2018

Project overview and impact:  More than 60% of the UK population are either overweight or obese.  Obesity increases the risk of developing a whole host of diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancer, and this poses a burden on NHS resources and the UK economy as a whole. Development of obesity stem from a combination of factors, including diet, lifestyle and environment, and genetic/epigenetic factors. One of the more recently identified factors in development of obesity and obesity-related diseases is the gut microbiome. This pre-clinical experimental study investigates whether obesity and type 2 diabetes are due to alterations in gut microbiota and by a single gene defect (Timp3). 

This project will use a mouse model to examine the effect of manipulating the diet and modifying environmental condition on the composition of the gut microbiota - and how the change in gut microbiota composition influences metabolisms and metabolic processes in genetically susceptible knockout mice.  The study will broaden our understanding of mechanisms that bring about the development of metabolic diseases, and help design intervention strategies to improve lifelong health.

Training and opportunities: The successful candidate will work with a team of researchers within the Faculty of Medicine at the UoS, and as part of an international research collaboration with the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). The student will receive training in a range of biochemical and molecular techniques as well as 16s sequencing, bioinformatics analysis, whole-animal behavioral and metabolic assays, using state-of-the-arts facilities.

Funding information: This is a fully funded PhD project, jointly funded by the UoS Presidential Scholarship and CUHK.  The student will register as full-time PhD at the UoS (Faculty of Medicine), and uniquely, will have the opportunity to visit CUHK during the PhD tenure to enhance student experience.

Person Specification: See below
UK students.  EU or international students are also welcome to apply but the successful candidate is expected to self-fund the fees difference between international student and home student.

We welcome applications from those who hold a relevant first-class or upper-second-class honours degree; a Master’s degree in a relevant discipline would be advantageous. Applicants must be self-motivated, well organised, is able to work independently and as part of a research team, and has apassion for scientific research.

Administrative contact and how to apply:

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

You should enter Dr Sylvia Pender 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

Dr Sylvia Pender ( or Dr Felino Cagampang (

Closing date: 9th November 2018

The closing date for this job opportunity has now passed, and applications are no longer being accepted for this position

Further details:
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