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PhD studentship: Role of adipose tissue function in fatty liver disease

Human Development and Health

Location:  Southampton General Hospital
Closing Date:  Monday 10 December 2018
Reference:  1048418AF

Lead Institute / Faculty: Human Development and Health, Faculty of Medicine

Main Supervisor: Dr Jaswinder K. Sethi

Other members of the supervisory team: Prof Christopher Byrne and Professor Philip Calder

Duration of the award: 36 months, full time.

Project description: 

With the increased prevalence of obesity, and limited success in preventative approaches, there is an urgent need to better understand and manage its long-term consequences. Such consequences include the increased risk of developing metabolic diseases such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Over 25 years, we and others have investigated mechanisms of metabolic disease at both molecular and systems levels, that have revealed fundamental metabolic and endocrine roles of adipose tissue in regulating metabolic health. These include the pathogenic role of chronic low-grade inflammation (or metaflammation) in limiting adipose tissue expansion and function - key drivers of ectopic fat deposition. Recent evidence suggests that perturbations in the gut microbiota (dysbiosis) also plays an important role in energy homeostasis and may impact on the development of obesity and NAFLD. The current PhD project aims to address these associations by investigating NAFLD patients who have participated in a randomised placebo-controlled trial testing the effect of a synbiotic intervention. The project will involve a collaboration between three research groups based at University Hospital Southampton and will offer opportunities to gain skills and experience in clinical and translational research using techniques such as histological imaging, immunoassays, molecular biology, transcriptomics, lipidomics, bioinformatics and biomedical statistics.

Please contact:  Dr Jaswinder K. Sethi (j.sethi@soton.ac.uk)

Person Specification: See below.

We seek a candidate with the following qualities:

  • A strong enthusiasm for elucidating molecular mechanisms of disease.
  • A confident, proactive attitude enabling them to work collaboratively across multiple interfaces (Clinical research, molecular biology, tissue imaging, bioinformatics and omic technology).
  • A good team worker and communicator.
  • An organised thinker, able to drive diverse project aspects including large data sets and manage time efficiently.

The successful candidate is likely to have the following qualifications:

  • A 1stor 2:1 degree in a relevant discipline (e.g. molecular cell biology, biochemistry, human physiology, computational biology, bioinformatics)

Funding information: 

The project is fully funded for 3 years by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) through the Southampton Biomedical Research Centre and welcomes applicants from students eligible for this funding. Funding will cover fees and a stipend at standard Research Council rates for UK students.

Administrative contact and how to apply:

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

https://studentrecords.soton.ac.uk/BNNRPROD/bzsksrch.P_Login?pos=7209&majr=7209&term=201819

You should enter Dr Jaswinder K. Sethi 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 Jaswinder K. Sethi (j.sethi@soton.ac.uk).

Closing date: 10th December 2018

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