Vacancy for PhD student

The Universities of Nottingham and Adelaide (Australia) have provided funding for a PhD studentship to myself and Matt Elmes in Nottingham and Bob Gibson and Beverly Muhlhauser in Adelaide. The project is entitled, ‘Long-term health effects of fatty acids in pregnancy‘ and the student will spend 2 years in Nottingham and 2 in Adelaide. An overview of the project is provided below. If you are interested in learning more about the project or wish to apply for the studentship then please contact me at Note that the position is only open to students from the UK or EU due to the funding arrangements.

Project summary

Linoleic acid is the most abundant polyunsaturated fatty acid in human diets this has been associated with a rise in auto-immune disease and cardiovascular disease. Linoleic acid (LA), consumption has increased world wide and this fatty acid is a major component of human tissues, and the direct precursor to the oxidized linoleic acid metabolites including (OXLAMs) 9- and 13-hydroperoxy-octadecadienoic acid (9- and 13-HpODE) and 9- and 13-hydrox-octadecadienoic acid (9- and 13-HODE) Lowering dietary linoleic acid reduces bioactive oxidized linoleic acid metabolites in humans Randomized Controlled Trial. Relatively large quantities of these OXLAMs are formed when vegetable oils rich in LA are cooked or otherwise heated. After consumption, these preformed OXLAMs are readily absorbed and incorporated into human tissues.

OXLAMs have been mechanistically linked to several pathological conditions including steatohepatitis. Consumption of heated vegetable oils rich in LA has also been linked to development of cerebellar ataxia in chicks, suggesting that dietary OXLAMs could have unfavorable effects on the developing brain. However, the effects of exposure to high levels of OXLAMs during pregnancy on the mother, or on the later metabolic, immune and neurodevelopmental outcomes in the child are unknown.

Work in our laboratories has firmly established that exposure to adverse nutritional environments during fetal development is associated with poor health outcomes in later life, including cardiovascular disease and the metabolic syndrome. Much of this work has focused on effects of maternal obesity or specific components of undernutrition such as protein restriction or iron deficiency. This novel project will consider whether maternal fatty acid consumption during impacts upon metabolic and cardiovascular health of the resulting offspring, using established rodent models. Measurements of OXLAMs will enable the relationship between exposure to high levels may have a mechanistic role in the early life programming of disease.


Daniel ZC, Akyol A, McMullen S, Langley-Evans SC (2014) Exposure of neonatal rats to maternal cafeteria diet during suckling alters hepatic gene expression and DNA methylation in the insulin signalling pathway. Genes and Nutrition 9, 365.

Wood KE, Lau A, Mantzioris E, Gibson RA, Ramsden CE, Muhlhausler BS. A low omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-6 PUFA) diet increases omega-3 (n-3) long chain PUFA status in plasma phospholipids in humans. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2014 Apr;90(4):133-8.

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