PhD Studentship opportunity

We have a PhD studentship available with a starting date of October 1st 2014. If you are a UK or EU national and have the equivalent of a UK upper second class honours degree in a life sciences subject from a UK or EU university, then we would welcome your application. Please submit a cv and covering letter to by 3rd September 2014.

The studentship is funded by the British Heart Foundation and covers all fees for 3 years. The starting stipend payable to the student is £19919, rising to £23298 in the third year of the project.


Research area

Undernutrition during fetal life is associated with programming of metabolic function, type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Evidence is mounting that maternal obesity is also a risk for adverse programming. However, exploration of the mechanistic basis of programming is challenging, as animal models of obesity generally use hypercaloric diets based upon a narrow range of pure fats or sugars. These may have effects independently of maternal body composition. A cafeteria diet (a varying panel of highly palatable foods) is known to have a programming effect on glucose homeostasis in rodents, through epigenetic modification and altered expression of the insulin-signalling pathway. This project will utilize an established rat model of cafeteria feeding to investigate tissue sensitivity of such effects and the role of epigenetics in programming the insulin-signalling pathway. The relative contributions of maternal obesity and over-feeding to establishing metabolic and cardiovascular phenotypes will be dissected through cross-fostering and staged feeding experiments.

Training opportunities for the student

The student will receive a training in a broad spectrum of techniques which cover whole animal physiology, the use of animal models of nutrition and disease and molecular biology. All of the techniques to be used within the project currently operate routinely within the Langley-Evans and Elmes laboratories and the School of Biosciences. The student will be trained by both supervisors, supported by current PhD students, and the expert technical team within the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Nottingham.

The techniques to be used are:

Animals and whole body physiology.
• Blood pressure determination by indirect methods. The student will also be exposed to telemetry methods.
• Glucose tolerance testing.
• Running rigorous animal feeding trials.

Ex vivo cardiovascular physiology.
• Wire myography to determine response of resistance arteries to vaso-relaxant and vasoconstrictor agents.

Determination of gene and protein expression.
• Western blotting.
• Real time quantitative PCR.
• Methylation specific PCR.
• Pyrosequencing
• Chromatin Immunoprecipitation

In addition to the technical and project specific laboratory training, the student will receive a rigorous grounding in statistical analysis. The student will also access the University of Nottingham Graduate School generic training portfolio, currently comprising ~80 individual courses covering all aspects of researcher development. The courses are mapped against RCUK requirements, as defined in the Researcher Development Framework set out in the University of Nottingham Quality Manual. This central programme exists to complement the discipline-specific research training offered to research students by the supervisors.

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